A South Dakota inmate was executed on the evening of Monday, Oct. 29, for beating a prison guard to death several years ago as he was trying to escape.
He used his final moments alive to make a joke about traffic as his execution was delayed by several hours.
“Sorry for the delay, I got caught in traffic,” Rodney Berget, 56, said as he received a lethal dose of an undisclosed drug, Fox News reported. “I love you, and I’ll meet you out there,” he also told people before his death.
seriously. Rodney Berget, executed tonight in SD for killing a prison guard, joked in final words "Sorry for the delay. i got caught in traffic." referring to several-hour court delay to his execution. pic.twitter.com/sTWsHwYNFc
— jim benemann (@jimbcbs4) October 30, 2018
Berget was convicted of killing Ronald “R.J.” Johnson in 2011 with a pipe at the South Dakota State Penitentiary.
Johnson’s widow, Lynette Johnson, who saw the execution said that her husband’s beating death was “cruel and unusual” while Berget’s lethal injection was “peaceful” and “sterile,” according to reports.
“What’s embedded in my mind is the crime scene. Ron laid in a pool of blood. His blood was all over that crime scene,” she told CBS News. “That’s cruel and unusual punishment.”
“Today was about choices,” said Johnson’s daughter after the lethal injection.
Twelve minutes after the lethal drug was administered, Berget was pronounced dead at 7:37 p.m. local time.
His execution was delayed by several hours while the U.S. Supreme Court weighed a last-minute legal bid to prevent it, CBS News reported. That’s when he made the traffic joke.
Before the slaying in 2011, Berget was serving a life sentence for attempted murder and kidnapping. In the murder, Berget and another inmate, Eric Robert, attacked Johnson in the part of the prison known as Pheasantland Industries, where inmates work on furniture, signs, and upholstery. After Johnson was beaten, Robert put on his pants, hat, and jacket and pushed a cart with boxes, one with Berget inside.
They were stopped at the gate by another guard.
Later, Berget admitted his role in the killing, CBS reported.
Robert was executed in October 2012.
Several weeks ago, just to the south of South Dakota, Nebraska carried out its first execution since 1997, putting Carey Dean Moore (as seen in the top video) to death for the slayings of two taxi cab drivers. The case is notable because Nebraska became the first state to use fentanyl, an opioid that has been blamed for the overdose deaths of thousands of Americans each year.
Moore was convicted in 1979 for killing Reuel Van Ness and Maynard Helgeland in Omaha.
It prompted two pharmaceutical to file a lawsuit against the state of Nebraska before dropping the suit, Omaha.com reported. Both firms, Fresenius Kabi and Sandoz, made a late attempt to try and block the state from carrying out Moore’s execution, saying they would suffer financial harm if their fentanyl products were linked to a lethal injection.
Moore, 60, spent 38 years on death row before the execution was carried out.