rodney berget

In 2011, prison officer Ron Johnson was murdered by two inmates who were trying to escape. His widow, Lynette Johnson, sued the South Dakota Department of Corrections and certain of its employees, in particular then-Warden Doug Weber. She holds that prison officials knew the inmates were planning an escape, but concealed that information after the incident.

The suit has been dismissed by both a federal court and state court. Now Lynette Johnson has appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Convicted killer Rodney Berget says he wants to stop an appeal that’s preventing him from being put to death, but his attorney can't support the move. The issues are enough to delay major action in Rodney Berget’s case for a few months.

Rodney Berget was in a Minnehaha County courtroom Friday. He wants to end his execution appeal.

Judge Douglas Hoffman asked if he understood that waiving his rights is a path to execution. Berget responded "yes".

That wasn’t enough for the judge to authorize a path to execution that day.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A South Dakota death row inmate’s conviction and sentence stand. A ruling from the United States Supreme Court Monday denies Rodney Berget’s request to overturn the state court’s decision. This puts an end to any direct appeals to his murder conviction and capital sentence.

Correctional Officer Ron Johnson died a violent death in May of 2011 when two inmates at the South Dakota State Penitentiary tried to escape from prison. Eric Robert and Rodney Berget were caught, tried, and convicted in the killing.

Death row inmate Rodney Berget has exhausted his direct appeals, and the Attorney General is seeking to set an execution date. Berget pleaded guilty to killing prison guard Ron Johnson in 2011 during an attempted escape from the South Dakota State Penitentiary.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakota’s Supreme Court says convicted killer Rodney Berget’s death sentence stands. Berget and Eric Robert were inmates at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in April of 2011. They tried to escape and murdered correctional officer Ron Johnson during their attempt.


For the second time, a convicted killer’s death sentence is in front of South Dakota’s Supreme Court. Rodney Berget won an element of his first appeal to the high court, but his attorney returns with arguments that the process and procedures of his sentencing aren’t fair.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A Minnehaha County judge says a confessed murderer won’t have a jury when he’s re-sentenced for the killing of a corrections officer. Rodney Berget admits to murdering Ron "RJ" Johnson during an escape attempt from the South Dakota State Penitentiary on April 12, 2011.

The South Dakota Supreme Court says a lower court shouldn’t have considered a psychiatrist’s testimony when sentencing Berget. Berget pleaded guilty and received a death sentence for the crime.

South Dakota’s Supreme Court is set to hear arguments this week on the campus of a Sioux Falls college. The high court hosts three days of oral arguments at the University of Sioux Falls.

The court hears oral arguments for eight cases. Monday’s most well-known case is the State versus Rodney Berget. In November of last year, Berget pleaded guilty to killing a state penitentiary correctional officer earlier in 20-11. He received the death sentence. Now Berget appeals that penalty. The state Supreme Court is obligated to review the death sentence case, even if Berget didn’t appeal.