FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : Monday, March 2, 2015
CONTACT: Sara Rabern, (605) 773-3215
United States Supreme Court Denies Rodney Berget’s Petition for Relief
PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Marty Jackley announces that the United States Supreme Court has denied Defendant Rodney Berget’s petition Writ of Certiorari.
“The United States Supreme Court has denied Rodney Berget’s request to overturn his conviction and capital sentence for the murder of Correctional Officer Ronald ‘RJ’ Johnson. I believe due process has been satisfied and that the interest of justice has been served,” said Jackley.
On February 6, 2012, Berget was sentenced to death for the 2011 killing of Senior Corrections Officer Ronald ‘RJ’ Johnson during a failed attempt to escape from the Sioux Falls Penitentiary. Berget was serving a life sentence for attempted murder and an additional life sentence for raping a convenience store clerk.
In January of 2013, The South Dakota Supreme Court affirmed 11 issues, including the appropriateness of the death sentence for Berget’s crime. However, the Court reversed the original sentence because the admission of statements Berget made to a psychiatrist violated Berget’s right against self-incrimination and remanded the case to the trial court for a limited re-sentencing and the opportunity for Berget to call the psychiatrist as a witness. At the re-sentencing, Berget did not call the psychiatrist as a witness but sought to introduce alleged new evidence regarding his family as mitigation against a new death sentence. The trial court again sentenced Berget to death by lethal injection.
Berget appealed from the trial court’s re-imposition of a death sentence claiming that the Court should have opened up the record to take his additional family evidence. The South Dakota Supreme Court rejected Berget’s appeal, citing the fact that Berget had a full opportunity to present all his desired mitigating evidence at his original sentencing. Berget petitioned the South Dakota Supreme Court to rehear his appeal, which the court denied in an order issued October 17, 2014.
Berget is scheduled to be executed between the hours of 12:01 a.m. and 11:59 p.m., during the week of Sunday, May 3, 2015, through Saturday, May 9, 2015, inclusive, at a specific time and date to be selected by the Warden of the State Penitentiary. Berget may seek the right to file additional habeas proceedings in order to stay the sentencing date.