FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : Monday, February 6, 2012
CONTACT: Sara Rabern, (605) 773-3215
Rodney Berget Sentenced to Death
PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Marty Jackley announced that the Honorable Bradley Zell has sentenced Rodney Berget, 49, to death by lethal injection for the first degree murder of Correction Officer Ronald R.J. Johnson at the South Dakota State Penitentiary on April 12, 2011.
The Court determined the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of one or more statutorily defined aggravating factors, and the only effective and reasonable punishment was the imposition of death.
“The death penalty is reserved for the most heinous offenses such as the vile and destructive conduct of Rodney Berget,” said Jackley. “As difficult as it remains for Officer Johnson’s family, justice has been served to protect the public from future escape attempts, and the penitentiary community from any further harm by Rodney Berget.”
It is anticipated that a warrant of death sentence and execution appointing a week not less than six months nor more than 8 months will be issued after the Trial Court’s judgment imposing death. Thereafter, the record of the proceedings will be forwarded to the South Dakota Supreme Court to determine whether the sentence of death was properly imposed; whether the evidence at trial supports the Judge’s finding of at least one statutory aggravating factor; and whether the sentence of death is excessively disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases, considering both the crime and the defendant.
Codefendant Eric Robert, who was convicted and sentenced to death for his role in Officer Johnson’s murder, is scheduled to be executed during the week of Sunday, May 13, 2012, through Saturday, May 19, 2012, inclusive, at a specific time and date to be selected by the Warden of the State Penitentiary.
Defendant Michael Nordman has been charged with aiding and abetting Berget and Robert in the First Degree Murder by assisting and providing the means including a metal pipe and roll of plastic wrap. He has pled not guilty, and is presumed innocent until such time as proven guilty. He is scheduled for hearing on February 9, 2012 at 9:00 am.