'Evil' Inmate Who Murdered Guard: I'd Kill Again - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

'Evil' Inmate Who Murdered Guard: I'd Kill Again

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) A South Dakota inmate who acknowledged killing a state penitentiary guard in a failed escape attempt asked a judge on Wednesday to sentence him to death, saying his one regret is that he did not kill another officer and that he will kill again.

Eric Robert, 49, pleaded guilty in September to killing Ronald "R.J." Johnson on April 12 – Johnson's birthday – in an attempt to sneak past other security. Robert waived his right to a jury trial and said he wanted to be put to death, but Second Circuit Judge Bradley Zell said the state still had to prove the death penalty is warranted. Robert had been serving an 80-year-sentence on a kidnapping conviction when he attempted to escape with Rodney Berget, 49.

Robert told Zell during his pre-sentencing hearing that he was so full of anger and hungry for freedom on April 12 that he would have killed anyone who stood in his way.

"Brad Zell, if you stood between me and the door of freedom, I would kill you," Robert said.

Robert said the one regret he has from April 12 is that he did not bring the pipe with him to the gate to kill the officer who stopped him. Once he realized his plan was going to fail, Robert said he began climbing up the wall of the prison – not to escape but to try to reach for the rifle of an officer on the lookout.

"I would have shot that weapon until it was empty," he said.

Zell told Robert that wanting to die is not reason enough for the death penalty.

"There are many people who want to die," Zell said, adding that that doesn't count as an aggravating factor.

The judge must find at least one aggravating factor was present during the killing to sentence Robert to death. The state presented five factors during the three-day pre-sentencing hearing: the death of a correctional officer, the manner of death, where and why it occurred, and the defendants' criminal background.

Robert said he was guilty of all five factors and offered a sixth one to the judge – stealing Johnson's uniform, which included his wallet with money inside.

Robert chose not to present mitigating evidence during the hearing – including time as a little league coach and EMT – that could have swayed the judge to sentence him to life in prison. His good deeds are irrelevant now, he said.

"That person that did good no longer exists," Robert said.

Robert, sitting next to one of his lawyers and wearing an orange jumpsuit with his feet and hands shackled, ended his statement by saying that his death will not bring Johnson back, but it will start the healing process for his family. Robert then wiped away a tear.

But one of Robert's defense lawyers, Mark Kadi, said his client did take issue with being characterized as a sexual predator stemming from a kidnapping conviction in 2005. Robert contends he kidnapped the 18-year-old girl to rob her, not sexually assault her.

Lynette Johnson, Ronald Johnson's widow, broke down in tears and had to be escorted off the witness stand as she testified about how her life has been ruined because of Robert's actions on April 12. In their 34 years together, they spent a total of six nights apart, she said.

"We weren't done," she said. "We weren't done living. He wasn't done living with me."

Lynette Johnson called Robert "evil" and a "coward" and has a hard time responding when one of her six grandchildren ask about their papa.

"He decided to take him away from me," she said as she looked directly at Robert. "You are a coward."

Berget, who has pleaded not guilty to the slaying, also faces the death penalty. His trial is scheduled to start Jan. 30. A third inmate, Michael J. Nordman, 47, was charged with supplying some of the items used in the killing. Prosecutors have not said whether they will seek the death penalty for Nordman.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • 2 stabbed to death, 1 injured on Portland train by man hurling racial slurs

    2 stabbed to death, 1 injured on Portland train by man hurling racial slurs

    Saturday, May 27 2017 11:29 AM EDT2017-05-27 15:29:58 GMT

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Police in Oregon say two people died and another was hurt in a stabbing on a Portland light-rail train after a man yelled racial slurs at two young Muslim women. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports officers arrested a man Friday afternoon who ran from the train.  Portland police Sgt. Pete Simpson says the assailant on the train was ranting on many topics, using "hate speech or biased language," and turned his focus on the women.

    >>

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Police in Oregon say two people died and another was hurt in a stabbing on a Portland light-rail train after a man yelled racial slurs at two young Muslim women. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports officers arrested a man Friday afternoon who ran from the train.  Portland police Sgt. Pete Simpson says the assailant on the train was ranting on many topics, using "hate speech or biased language," and turned his focus on the women.

    >>
  • Post Falls Officer pulls over little girl in power wheels Jeep

    Post Falls Officer pulls over little girl in power wheels Jeep

    Friday, May 26 2017 10:03 PM EDT2017-05-27 02:03:49 GMT

    POST FALLS, Idaho - Hometown Heroes. Every week, we highlight someone who works in public safety for all the good work they do. Tonight is a bit of a change from the typical Hometown Hero. It's the story of a little girl who suddenly became public enemy number one. Pat Eismann was patrolling the area in Post Falls when he noticed something a bit out of the ordinary. "I saw a little girl driving a power wheels jeep down the street," Officer Eismann said....

    >>

    POST FALLS, Idaho - Hometown Heroes. Every week, we highlight someone who works in public safety for all the good work they do. Tonight is a bit of a change from the typical Hometown Hero. It's the story of a little girl who suddenly became public enemy number one. Pat Eismann was patrolling the area in Post Falls when he noticed something a bit out of the ordinary. "I saw a little girl driving a power wheels jeep down the street," Officer Eismann said....

    >>
  • Police: Woman locked her kids in car trunk while she shopped

    Police: Woman locked her kids in car trunk while she shopped

    Saturday, May 27 2017 4:26 PM EDT2017-05-27 20:26:48 GMT

    RIVERDALE, Utah (AP) - A 39-year-old Utah woman has been arrested after she allegedly locked her two young children in her car's trunk while she went inside a Wal-Mart store to shop. Riverdale police say witnesses heard the children ages 2 and 5 making noise and saw the car shaking, got the older child to pull the emergency latch and called 911.

    >>

    RIVERDALE, Utah (AP) - A 39-year-old Utah woman has been arrested after she allegedly locked her two young children in her car's trunk while she went inside a Wal-Mart store to shop. Riverdale police say witnesses heard the children ages 2 and 5 making noise and saw the car shaking, got the older child to pull the emergency latch and called 911.

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/