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Witnesses Describe Events Inside Chamber



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Fifty-year-old Eric Robert died from lethal injection Monday night at 10:24 p.m. He was the second person to be executed in South Dakota in 65 years.

Just a half hour before Robert was set to be executed, movement began.

"Eric Robert was removed from the holding cell at 9:31 p.m.," said Michael Winder of the South Dakota Department of Corrections.

With the chamber only steps away, it took him just a minute to get to the table. At 9:35 p.m., all seven restraints were secured. An IV was started in his right arm, then his left. Five minutes later, witnesses were escorted into four different viewing rooms surrounding the execution chamber. Fifteen minutes after that, the curtains to the viewing rooms were opened.

John Hult of the Argus Leader said, "He had a white t-shirt on. He had a white sheet over top of him and underneath that you could see the orange inmate pants."
    
At exactly 10 p.m., Warden Doug Weber was cleared to proceed with the execution. That's when Weber asked if Robert had any last words. Robert replied, 'In the name of justice and liberty and mercy I authorize and forgive Warden Douglas Weber to execute me for my crimes.'

Dave Kolpack, a Fargo Correspondent with the Associated Press, said, "Then he looked up again and said, 'It is done.'"

The injections began flowing through Robert's veins at 10:01 p.m.

"When the drug was administered he appeared to be clearing his throat, like he was thirsty. He began to make heavy gasps and then started snoring," said Kolpack.

The injections were completed just four minutes later.

"There was no movement. I didn't see his chest move at all after that," said Hult.
    
The witnesses say his face turned pale; his face purple by the time the execution was over. Robert was prounced dead at 10:24 p.m. The fate he had asked for had been carried out.

"Director of Prison Operations and Chief Warden Doug Weber and his staff spent countless hours of preparation to ensure that the execution was carried out in a professional, humane and dignified manner, in an accordance to state law," said Winder.

From the time the injections began to the time Robert was pronounced dead, 23 minutes had gone by.
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