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AG Requests New Sentence for Berget

Lethal Injection (FILE)
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PIERRE, S.D. (AP) – South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley has asked the 2nd Judicial Circuit to schedule a resentencing hearing for a man who helped kill a guard at the State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls.

The state Supreme Court this week overturned Rodney Berget’s death sentence and ordered a new sentencing hearing. Justices said the circuit judge who sentenced Berget to die improperly considered a statement Berget made to a psychiatrist.

Jackley has filed a motion asking the circuit court to schedule a new sentencing hearing “at the earliest time convenient for the court and counsel.”

The 50-year-old Berget and another inmate, Eric Robert, pleaded guilty to killing guard Ronald Johnson during a failed escape attempt in April 2011. Robert was executed last October. Berget appealed his death sentence.

A third inmate, Michael Nordman, was given a life sentence for providing materials used in the slaying.

In a statement from the court:

The court’s ruling affirms the appropriateness of a death sentence for Berget’s crime. In a 4-1 decision as to one issue, the South Dakota Supreme Court determined that the admission of statements Berget made to a psychiatrist violated Berget’s rights against self-incrimination and to confront a potentially adverse witness. The Court has remanded the case to the trial court for a limited re-sentencing on the existing record without reference to the disputed psychiatric report.

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