SDakota Inmate In Guard Killing Sentenced To Death

Published February 6, 2012 4:54PM (EST)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota inmate who pleaded guilty to killing a prison guard during an escape attempt has been sentenced to death.

Second Circuit Judge Bradley Zell sentenced 49-year-old Rodney Berget on Monday. Berget had pleaded guilty to killing 63-year-old Ronald Johnson on April 12 — Johnson's 63rd birthday — with fellow inmate Eric Robert.

Prosecutors say Berget and Robert bashed Johnson with a pipe, covered his mouth with plastic wrap and used the dead man's uniform in the escape attempt.

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty based on five aggravating factors. Zell had to find at least one was present to sentence Berget to death.

Robert was sentenced to death in October.

A third inmate, Michael Nordman, has also been charged in the case and is awaiting trial.

By Salon Staff

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