KDLT Home KDLT on Facebook KDLT on Twitter Get the KDLT iPhone App Get the KDLT Android App

Jackley Talks About Death Penalty Reversal



Bookmark and Share

The South Dakota Supreme Court announced a shocking decision on Thursday. Justices have decided to overturn the death sentence of convicted killer, Rodney Berget.

The attack took place nearly two years ago.  On his 63rd birthday, Officer Ronald Johnson was beaten to death by inmates Rodney Berget and Eric Robert as both were trying to escape. Berget pleaded guilty to 1st degree murder and was sentenced by Judge Bradley Zell to die by lethal injection.  Three months ago Berget’s attorney, Jeff Larson, argued before the South Dakota Supreme Court saying Berget didn’t receive a fair sentence.

“My client didn't have a chance anyway,” said Larson in October.

Ultimately the high court decided the sentence was appropriate...except for one issue. Justices say when making his decision, Judge Zell considered statements Berget made to a psychiatrist.  The psychiatrist was never called to the stand. The South Dakota Supreme Court found by admitting the statements, the circuit court violated Berget’s rights against self-incrimination. Their decision to reverse Berget’s death sentence means Berget will return back to the courtroom for a new sentencing hearing.

Although it was not the decision Attorney General Marty Jackley had hoped for, his reaction was positive.

Attorney General Marty Jackley says, “It was a good decision on 11 of the 12 issues. Now we have the opportunity in the court room to go back in, make sure we do it right, and make sure the right evidence is considered. I anticipate that we'll be filing a motion in the next day or two to try and move this forward with respect to that limited scope of the psychological evaluation.”

Jackley says the psychiatric report will not be included in the new hearing and he feels there is still plenty of evidence to warrant the death penalty.

Ronald Johnson’s widow, Lynette Johnson says she is devastated by the ruling.

In the 63-page document explaining the South Dakota Supreme Court’s decision, it’s noted that Berget has been disciplined at least 4 times for escape attempts. He has been classified as a maximum security risk since 2003.
< Prev Story Back To Top Next Story >
     

SD Man Gets 30 Years In Daughter's Death

A South Dakota man convicted of killing his 2-year-old daughter by punching her ...

SD Cheerleaders In NYC Thanksgiving Parade  story with video

Two small town South Dakota girls are taking a trip to the big city. On ...

Major Infrastructure Improvements In 2015  story with video

2014 may not be over yet, but the City of Sioux Falls is already looking ...

Stampede Encourage Giving With Blood Drive  story with video  Nov. 25

Lessons We Can Learn From Ferguson  story with video  Nov. 25

Gov. Daugaard Appoints New Supreme Court Justice  Nov. 25

2 Men Charged With Trying To Support Islamic State  Nov. 25

Great Bear Opens Early, Other Ski Areas Poised Too  Nov. 25

Missouri Governor: More National Guard In Ferguson  Nov. 25

SD Gov. Daugaard Names Interim Secretary Of Health  Nov. 25

Vandals Damage Holiday Display At Children's Park  Nov. 25

Budgeting Help Available In SD This Holiday Season  Nov. 25

2 Plead Guilty In Connection To Iowa House Fires  Nov. 25

Both Sides Want Judge To Rule On Gay Marriage  Nov. 25

Ferguson: Daylight Reveals Damage  story with video  Nov. 25

E-Pulltabs Finally Gaining Ground In Minnesota  Nov. 25

The Daily Scoop: 11-25-2014  story with video  Nov. 25

Winter Travel Safety Tips  story with video  Nov. 25

Wake Held For Girl Killed By Dogs On Reservation  Nov. 25

South Dakota Corn, Sunflower Harvests Wrapping Up  Nov. 25

KDLT News Archive
     

No Injuries In Early Morning House Fire In SF

No one was injured after a fire broke out in a Sioux ...

Ferguson: Daylight Reveals Damage  story with video

Morning light unveiled smoldering streets in Ferguson, Missouri. ...

Both Sides Want Judge To Rule On Gay Marriage

Attorneys for the state and for a group of ...

SD Cheerleaders In NYC Thanksgiving Parade  story with video  Nov. 25

SD Man Gets 30 Years In Daughter's Death  Nov. 25

2 Men Charged With Trying To Support Islamic State  Nov. 25

Wake Held For Girl Killed By Dogs On Reservation  Nov. 25

2 Plead Guilty In Connection To Iowa House Fires  Nov. 25

KDLT News Archive
     

Fuquan likes playing on young Skyforce  story with video

The Skyforce have a very young and talented team led by top draft pick Fuquan ...

Tigers ice cold in loss to Briar Cliff  story with video

MITCHELL, S. D. – The Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball team ...

Voss, Tigers stay unbeaten with rally against Briar Cliff  story with video

Jalen Voss poured in 20 points as all 5 Tiger starters were in ...

Jacks glad to have Sumner back  story with video  Nov. 25

SMSU glad to make first Elite 8  story with video  Nov. 25

Balanced attack leads SDSU past Sam Houston  story with video  Nov. 24

Allen leads Dakota State over Cougars at USF  story with video  Nov. 24

Chadron State men no match for Jacks at Frost  story with video  Nov. 24

KDLT Sports Stories
     
Back To Top