Inmate who killed guard to be executed MondayA man convicted of killing a South Dakota prison guard during a failed escape attempt is set to die by lethal injection Monday, the state Department of Corrections announced Friday.
By: Kristi Eaton, The Associated Press
A man convicted of killing a South Dakota prison guard during a failed escape attempt is set to die by lethal injection Monday, the state Department of Corrections announced Friday.
Eric Robert, 50, who said he would kill again were he not put to death, is scheduled be executed at approximately 10 p.m. Monday at the state penitentiary in Sioux Falls — the same prison where he attacked and killed prison guard Ronald “RJ” Johnson on April 12, 2011.
Robert was serving an 80-year sentence for a kidnapping conviction when he and Rodney Berget, 50, attempted to escape.
Johnson was working alone on the morning of his death — also his 63rd birthday — in a part of the prison known as Pheasantland Industries, where inmates work on upholstery, signs, custom furniture and other projects. Prosecutors said the inmates beat Johnson with a pipe and covered his head in plastic wrap to kill him. Robert then put on the guard’s uniform and tried to push a large box on a cart containing Berget to the prison gate. The inmates were apprehended before leaving the grounds.
Robert pleaded guilty to the slaying and asked to be sentenced to death, telling a judge last October that he would otherwise kill again.
Circuit Judge Brad Zell found there was at least one aggravating factor present in the killing to warrant the death penalty and sentenced Robert to die by lethal injection. Robert did not appeal the sentence, though the South Dakota Supreme Court did conduct a mandatory review.
Berget also pleaded guilty to the slaying and was sentenced to death. He has appealed his death sentence to the South Dakota Supreme Court. A third inmate, Michael Nordman, 48, was given a life term for providing materials used in the death.
Robert’s lawyer, Mark Kadi, said he had met with his client Wednesday and planned to meet with him again later Friday and during the weekend.