Court date set to hear pending motions in Berget death sentence
The next court date is set for Rodney Berget, a man appealing his death sentence for his role in killing a prison guard at the South Dakota State Penitentiary.
Berget pleaded guilty to being an accomplice to the murder of State Corrections Officer Ronald "RJ" Johnson on April 12, 2011. In February 2012, Berget and Eric Roberts were sentenced to death for the murder. Roberts was executed on October 15, 2012.
Since Minnehaha County Judge Bradley Zell's ruling, Berget has made efforts to appeal his death sentence. In January, the South Dakota State Supreme Court overturned his sentence stating a psychologist's testimony was unfairly used against him in court. The high court asked Judge Zell to resentence Berget without considering that testimony.
On January 22, 2013, Berget filed a petition for an additional hearing before the Supreme Court, claiming he misunderstood the law as it pertained to his case. The Supreme Court denied that request.
In February, Berget filed paperwork asking for a new sentencing hearing, arguing that he should be allowed to present new evidence. Berget's new argument stems from his newfound relationship with his son.
However, Attorney General Marty Jackley says this new relationship should not play a role in Berget's sentencing. In a statement to the high court, Jackley wrote:
"If family and fatherhood was such a meaningful consideration to Berget, it should have deterred him from robbing RJ Johnson's son and daughter of their father. Where Berget sees redemptive mitigation evidence in this newfound-son scenario, the state sees only further aggravating evidence of selfishness and failure to accept his responsibilities in life."
On Wednesday, the South Dakota Attorney General's Office issued an email stating that Berget will appear in court on Tuesday, April 16 to address all pending motions.