The defense team for Rodney Berget have few options left as the death penalty is still in play for the convicted killer. A ruling on Thursday affirmed Berget’s competency.

South Dakota State Penitentiary officer Ronald “R.J.” Johnson was murdered during an escape attempt in 2011. Two men were convicted of the crime and both sentenced to death for the heinous crime.

Eric Robert was executed back in 2012, but Berget is still fighting for his life.
In 2nd Circuit Court, Judge Douglas Hoffman weighed the evidence from both sides that argued the capacity for Berget to devise a plan to carry out the murder.

Hoffman’s decision stated that Berget doesn’t have an intellectual disability and subsequently dismissed all of his claims on those grounds. The death penalty is still the appropriate sentence for Berget.

In a press release, Attorney General Marty Jackley was encouraged by the latest proceedings.

“The Court found that the factual record demonstrates that Berget was a leader and not a follower, recognizing he has a highly developed planning, reasoning and problem solving ability. The State can now proceed with obtaining justice for Ronald ‘RJ’ Johnson and his family.”

The ruling is key for the State’s case because Federal law does not allow those who have intellectual disabilities. For now the sentencing court will be the next entity that will handle the coming phase which involves the warrant of execution.


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