Updated: Today’s Execution: Eric Robert

UPDATE: Eric Robert has been executed. His time of death was 10:24 p.m. local time.

Critics of the death penalty gather and read scripture outside the South Dakota State Penitentiary October 15, 2012.
– photo by Melissa Sue Gerrits / Argus Leader Media

Tonight South Dakota carried out the execution of Eric Robert, who was given a death sentence for the 2011 killing of South Dakota State Penitentiary correctional officer Ronald Johnson in Sioux Falls. Robert was declared dead at 10:24 p.m. local time.

According to the Associated Press, it was the first execution in South Dakota in five years and only the second in more than half a century.

Robert, 50, pleaded guilty in the slaying of a Johnson during a failed escape attempt and asked to be put to death, saying he would kill again.

According to the Associated Press, “Robert was serving an 80-year sentence for a kidnapping conviction when he and Rodney Berget, 50, tried to escape from a Sioux Falls prison. Authorities say the two hit Ronald Johnson with a pipe and covered his mouth with plastic wrap.

Robert then put on Johnson’s pants, hat and jacket and approached the prison’s west gate. With his head down, he pushed a cart loaded with two boxes. Berget was hidden in one of the boxes, according to a report filed by a prison worker after the slaying.

As the men got closer to the gate – and freedom – guards became suspicious. When confronted, Robert beat one guard; other guards quickly arrived and detained both inmates.

Months later, Robert told a judge that his only regret was that he hadn’t killed more guards.

Johnson’s body was found on the floor in a Pheasantland Industries building, where inmates worked on upholstery, signs, custom furniture and other projects. Johnson was killed on his 63rd birthday.”

It was unlikely that Robert would receive any stays of execution, since he had volunteered for execution. The governor also announced last week that he will not intervene, so there was little chance of the execution being stopped.

Robert ate ice cream for his last meal on Saturday night and has been fasting since for religious reasons, according to his defense attorney.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard gave a statement on tonight’s execution, saying:

“This is a sad day for South Dakota.  Executions are rare in our state, and they are warranted only with extreme forethought and certainty.  In this case, Eric Robert admitted to his crime and requested that his punishment not be delayed.  I hope this brings closure to “RJ” Johnson’s family and all those who loved him.  I also commend Warden Weber and others in the state Department of Corrections who planned this very difficult task in a professional and careful manner.”

Robert’s final statement was one forgiving the warden for his execution: “In the name of justice and liberty and mercy, I authorize and forgive Warden Douglas Weber to execute me for my crimes. It is done.”

His attorney, Mark Kadi said that statement was very deliberate.

“He was forgiving the man who was executing him,” Kadi said. “It may seem like a minor, odd point for everybody else. But from the perspective of a man who’s got seconds left, the last thing he wanted to do was forgive the individual who was causing the execution, causing his death.”

Local news outlet ArgusLeader.com had several posts about the execution on a Tumblr site devoted to the topic. It’s very smartly   done and well worth a look if you’re interested. According to one of the posts, the following is a timeline of how Robert spent his last day:

9:31 p.m. Robert removed from his holding cell.

9:32 p.m. Robert transferred to the execution table.

9:35 The restraints were secured.

9:37 p.m. The first IV was started in the right arm.

9:41 p.m. The second IV was started.

9:46 p.m. Staff began to escort witnesses to the viewing rooms.

9:59 p.m. With all witnesses present the warden ordered the curtains open.

10 p.m. SOC informed warden he was clear to proceed with the execution.

10:01 p.m. Last statement. “It is done.”

10:04 p.m. The injections were completed.

10:24 p.m. Time of death.

Lynette Johnson, wife of Ronald “R.J.” Johnson speaks during a press conference following the execution of Eric Robert Monday night at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, Oct 15, 2012.   – photo by Elisha Page / Argus Leader Media

Lynette Johnson, wife of Ronald “R.J.” Johnson speaks during a press conference following the execution of Eric Robert Monday night at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, Oct 15, 2012.
– photo by Elisha Page / Argus Leader Media

Following the execution, the Ron Johnson’s widow, Lynette Johnson, read the following statement:

“As you know, there is much more to be done to ensure those responsible for Ron’s death answer for their conduct. We, Ron’s children and I, want everyone to please, do not forget how kind, how wonderful and caring Ron Johnson is. We know this execution tonight is not going to bring back my husband to me. It’s not going to bring our children’s father back to them, our six grandchildren’s Papa back to them. But we do know that the employees of the Department of Corrections and the public in general will be just a little bit safer now. We need to have more attention to be focused on the safety of all of the correctional officers in the state of South Dakota. Ron, none of you will ever know how greatly he is going to be and is missed. We stand proud for Ron. Thank you.”


Related Reading:

South Dakota: Governor Daugaard Won’t Stop Upcoming Executions

From Model Citizen to Killer on Death Row

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One thought on “Updated: Today’s Execution: Eric Robert

  1. […] Eric Robert wurde um 22:24 Uhr Ortszeit für tot erklärt. Ausführliche Informationen über seine Hinrichtung finden Sie bei Megan. […]

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