eric robert

South Dakota covers up source of death penalty drugs ahead of execution


Prison authorities in South Dakota are refusing to release information on contaminated drugs made to order for an execution tonight (30 October).

The so-called ‘DIY drugs’ – doses of the barbiturate pentobarbital produced by a compounding pharmacy for the South Dakota Department of Corrections (DOC) – were used to execute Eric Robert earlier this month, with alarming results. Robert’s eyes opened during the lethal injection process, a sign that he may not have been properly anaesthetised and the execution may have been botched.

The ingredients used to make the drugs used in Eric Robert’s execution – and set to be used this evening in that of Donald Moeller – were found to have been contaminated with fungus.

However, despite these indications that the drugs may be faulty, and therefore carrying a risk of unnecessary suffering for the prisoner, South Dakota has thus far refused to disclose any information on how they were obtained.

The drugs are known to have been made by a compounding pharmacy – a service which allows batches of drugs to be made up to order, thereby allowing customers to bypass mainstream pharmaceutical suppliers which face more comprehensive regulation. The compounding pharmacy industry has been in the spotlight lately after reports linked it to a widespread outbreak of meningitis in the US.

South Dakota DOC had previously intended to use drugs they had illegally imported from a supplier in India in the executions, but these drugs expired last month.

Maya Foa, investigator for the legal charity Reprieve said: “The use of these DIY execution drugs means that we have little idea of just what is being injected into prisoners’ veins. It is no surprise that prison authorities appear so desperate to cover up any information on where they have come from, or who made them. The South Dakota Department of Corrections must come clean: it is indefensible for the ultimate punishment to be carried out in this slipshod and unaccountable manner.”

SOUTH DAKOTA – Death penalty called incentive for Robert


 October 20,2012 http://www.argusleader.com

The lawyer for a man executed this week says the death penalty created an incentive for his client to murder corrections officer Ronald “R.J.” Johnson.

Mark Kadi, who represented 50-year-old Eric Robert in the capital case, wrote a letter to the Argus Leader saying his client devised an escape plan that involved murder to ensure a death sentence in the event his escape failed.

“The availability of the death penalty encouraged rather than discouraged Robert to commit this crime,” Kadi wrote. “I know this because Eric told me so.”

After the murder in April 2011, Robert quickly pleaded guilty and insisted the judge issue a death penalty, then strongly objected to a mandatory Supreme Court review, which delayed his execution. He wrote a letter to Attorney General Marty Jackley earlier this month encouraging revisions to state law to guarantee a speedy death for a death row inmate who was not fighting it.

Jackley, who prosecuted the case, rejects the notion that Johnson’s murder was anything but a failed, “poorly executed” escape attempt.

He also said the death penalty will protect corrections officers from an inmate who had promised to kill again.

Robert was executed by lethal injection Monday.

Kadi: Failed overdose before escape try

Kadi, who watched the execution, said in his letter that Robert felt “hopeless” behind bars, and that the inmate had attempted suicide by drug overdose before the escape attempt with fellow inmate Rodney Berget.

Robert was serving an 80-year sentence for kidnapping and failed to secure a sentence reduction.

Robert viewed a life sentence as being identical to a death sentence with the exception that the latter had a set date. Robert believed he needed to get out, one way or the other,” Kadi wrote.

Kadi’s letter says Robert had time to read the state’s death penalty statute and understood that killing a law enforcement officer in an act of escape would satisfy several of the aggravating factors that would justify an escape attempt.

Johnson was not afforded the additional protection the Legislature hoped to provide when adding those provisions to its death penalty statutes, Kadi wrote.

 Read the letter From Eric Robert to Attorney General Marty Jackley

Read the letter From Eric Robert’s Attorney, Mark Kadi

These factors, intended to be a shield, now served to target those the law protects in accordance with their important service to the public,” Kadi said. “The Legislature never intended these factors to be used in such a manner.”

Escape was only goal, Jackley says

Jackley rejects the notion that Robert and Berget’s crime was a suicidal act. Both men had escape histories, he said, and he contends escape alone was the goal.

“All the evidence in the case points to this being a poorly planned, poorly executed escape attempt,” Jackley said.

The attorney general also took issue with the notion that the death penalty does not provide a deterrent, particularly in Robert’s case. Robert said he would kill again if he weren’t executed.

“I can’t say if the death penalty will deter others from committing crimes in the future, but it deterred Eric Robert from committing any other crimes,” Jackley said.

Removing danger to prison staff

Future dangerousness framed key portions of Jackley’s argument for a death sentence in both Robert and Berget’s pre-sentence hearings. Berget also was sentenced to death for the crime.

Associate Warden Troy Ponto testified at Berget’s hearing that inmates segregated from the rest of the population can pose dangers during their daily interactions with officers.

Maximum security inmates are guarded by three officers any time their door is open.

“When we bring out inmates out of their cell, whether it be for a walk-through for medical, inmates have attempted to head-butt staff, punching them, kicking them,” Ponto said.

“We have good policies in place, but there is a risk when we take some of these guys out.”

Certain situations present further potential for violence. An inmate on a hunger strike would require additional interaction with medical staff, for example.

Robert and Berget both went on a hunger strike at the Minnehaha County Jail in the months after the murder of Johnson.

Ponto also said inmates are evaluated every 90 days to determine whether they should stay in segregation.

Johnson’s murder prompted a tightening of security measures at the prison. Lynette Johnson, Ron Johnson’s widow, said after Robert’s execution Monday night that “more needs to be done” to protect the officers at the penitentiary.

Speedy executions such as Robert’s rare

Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said the idea of an inmate committing a crime to earn a death sentence is highly unusual but not unheard of.

“Some believe that (serial killer) Ted Bundy deliberately went to Florida and committed murders because that was the state that was most likely to execute him,” Dieter said. “He was offered a plea bargain sparing his life, but he turned it down.”

Gary Gilmore, the first person executed following the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, volunteered for execution and was hanged three months from his sentence.

Robert’s explicit statement about his wish to die makes the case stand out, Dieter said.

The speed of Robert’s execution stands out as well. Of the 32 executions in the U.S. this year, Robert’s is the only one that happened within a year of the sentence. The next-shortest delay was six years.

The average wait time so far is 17 years.

Robert’s body was claimed by his family, Department of Corrections spokesman Michael Winder said.

 

 

SOUTH DAKOTA – Execution – ERIC ROBERT- Monday 10/15/2012 10 P.M EXECUTED 10.24 p.m


Eric Robert, 50, received lethal injection and was pronounced dead at the state penitentiary in Sioux Falls at 10:24 p.m. He is the first South Dakota inmate to die under the state’s new single-drug lethal injection method, and only the 17th person to be executed in the state or Dakota Territory since 1877.

Robert had no expression on his face. Asked if he had a last statement, Robert said: “In the name of justice and liberty and mercy, I authorize and forgive Warden Douglas Weber to execute me for the crimes. It is done.”

 

October 14, 2012 argusleader.com

October 12, 2012FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Michael Winder, Communications & Information Manager
Execution date, time set for Inmate Eric Robert
(Pierre, S.D.)- In accordance with South Dakota Codified Law 23A-27A-17, Doug Weber, Director of Prison Operations and Warden of the South Dakota State  Penitentiary, has set the date and time for the execution of Inmate Eric Robert as Monday, October 15, 2012 at approximately 10:00 p.m. CDT.
State law allows for the judge in a capital punishment case to appoint a week for the execution to occur. The exact date and time of the execution is left to the warden’s discretion. The warden is required by state law to publicly announce the scheduled day and hour of the execution not less than forty-eight hours prior to the execution.

perp walk

Eric Robert’s life bears little resemblance to that of his peers on death row.

Most condemned killers have troubling personal stories and long criminal histories.

Donald Moeller was beaten, demeaned and made to watch his biological mother’s drug use and sexual behavior. Elijah Page, executed in 2007, moved from house to house with substance-abusing parents then bounced from foster home to foster home in several states.

Rodney Berget suffered with an alcoholic father and abuse, and was first sent to the adult prison system at age 15. His brother, Roger, was executed in 2003 in Oklahoma, eight years before Rodney Berget and Robert would commit a capital crime in the murder of Corrections Officer Ron Johnson.

Robert’s life looked nothing like Berget’s. He will be put to death at 10 p.m. Monday.

Robert was the child of a single mother who helped raise his younger sister in his home state of Wisconsin. He had a stellar academic record, put himself through college and had a successful career in wastewater treatment. He was an emergency medical technician and frequent community volunteer who once helped erect a monument to a murdered sheriff.

He grew close to his longest-term love interest through her son, whom Robert coached on a Little League team.

In 2005, before he was sentenced to 80 years in prison for a Meade County kidnapping, his sister told the judge that her brother “has done more good in his life than many people in this world.”

This week, the state of South Dakota intends to put Robert to death by lethal injection for the brutal, premeditated killing of Johnson on April 12, 2011.

The rage that fueled the killing was a measure of how far he’d fallen from the life he once had. Robert said so himself in court one year ago. He’d refused to let his lawyer mention his good deeds.

“To be honest with you, the good acts that I’ve done in my life were not mentioned here, because they are irrelevant to these proceedings,” Robert said. “That person who did good things no longer exists.” 

Last week, through his lawyer Mark Kadi, Robert reiterated his reasoning for staying quiet about his prior kind acts during sentencing for the Johnson murder “My client feels that none of the good things he’s done justify the killing of Ron Johnson,” Kadi said.

Eric Robert was born May 31, 1962, in Massachusetts. His father was gone by the time he was 6 months old. Robert, his mother and younger sister moved to Hayward, Wis., when he still was young.

His sister, Jill Stalter, declined to comment for this story but testified on her brother’s behalf in 2005.

She said then that Robert was the father figure in their house as their mother worked three jobs and studied to earn a college degree.

“My brother took care of everything. He took out the trash, he made sure dinner was on the table, he even did grocery shopping. He got me my first dog. He did everything. He even shoveled snow, and in Hayward, it’s a lot of snow,” Stalter said. “He put himself through college by working weekends and during summer breaks. He didn’t take a penny from my mother because she was putting herself through college.”

He was a good student, as well, graduating 18th in his class at Hayward High School in 1980. He returned to Hayward after earning a biology degree with a chemistry minor at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

In 2000, he applied for a job as the wastewater treatment supervisor for the city of Superior. On his job application, released as part of a records request by the Argus Leader, Robert wrote that he hadn’t missed a day of work in 10 years.

He got along well with co-workers. Frog Prell, the city attorney, started work for the city in 2000, just a few months after Robert, whom family and friends knew as “Ranger.”

Robert used to drop by the office to joke around, quiz Prell about small towns in Wyoming, which is Prell’s home state. The short interactions left an impression on Prell, who didn’t know Robert was on death row until the records request came across desk this month.

“If you’d have asked me what I thought about Eric Robert before this, I’d have said he seemed like a pretty cool guy,” Prell said.

Dan Romans, the wastewater administrator for Superior, called Robert a “natural-born leader” who accomplished more in 18 months on the job than others had for decades.

Robert eventually lost his job in Superior, though, because he failed to comply with a city residence requirement, but he continued to consult with the city afterward.

He was living in a home in the rural community of Drummond, more than an hour southeast of Superior.

Violent toward women

It was in Hayward, almost a decade before, where he met the woman with whom he’d later build the house in Drummond.

That woman, who testified at Robert’s presentence hearing last year in Sioux Falls but declined to comment for this story, said there was an undercurrent of anger in him even then — one most people didn’t see.

“He was an aggressive, mean person who didn’t like other people and had to be in control,” she said the woman, whom the Argus Leader is not identifying because she is a victim.

She’d gone to high school with Robert but didn’t know him well at the time. They got reacquainted in 1992, when he was coaching her son’s baseball team. Robert soon was living with the woman and her two children.

“We got along fine at first,” she said, but then “he showed me his true colors.”

She recounted three specific incidents in court from their decade-long romance.

They rented an apartment in Cable, Wis., as they built their house, she said. One day, as they sat on the couch together, Robert backhanded her over an offhand remark.

She hit him back, she said, then recoiled when she realized that he was sure to retaliate.

“He punched me in the mouth so hard it pushed my bottom teeth through my lip,” she said.

Robert, who knew most of the employees in the local ER through his work as an EMT, told the doctors and nurses she’d slipped on icy steps while carrying in groceries.

He had similar explanation for her appearance at the ER with a broken foot years later. She called police on him after a separation, when he showed up at her house drunk and started a fight that ended with him pulling her around the yard by her hair.

 read full article : click here

 

South Dakota set to execute two on death row – Robert due next week; Moeller wants his lawyers dismissed


October 9, 2012 http://www.argusleader.com

State Department of Corrections officials gave media representatives a tour Tuesday of the execution chamber and holding cell where death row inmates Eric Robert and Donald Moeller will live out the last minutes of their lives later this month.

Robert, 50, has pleaded guilty to the 2011 murder of corrections officer Ron Johnson and is scheduled to die by lethal injection sometime next week. Moeller, 60, was twice convicted of rape and murder in the 1990 death of Becky O’Connell and is scheduled to be executed the week of Oct. 28-Nov. 3.

Though Moeller’s execution date has been set, U.S. District Judge Larry Piersol still has to decide on Moeller’s request to cease any further action on a constitutional challenge to the state’s execution method by injection. The judge’s decision on the matter is expected any day.

Arkansas lawyers appointed at the federal level to represent Moeller want to continue with the challenge and have asked Piersol to find that Moeller isn’t competent to make decisions in his case. On Tuesday, Moeller sent a letter to Piersol reiterating that he wants the Arkansas lawyers removed as his counsel.

Also Tuesday, media representatives shot photographs and video in what inmates call the old hospital section of the state penitentiary.

The death chamber is a square room with a table in the middle that sits on a cylindrical metal pedestal.

A white mattress rests on the table with armrests to each side. Four leather straps are draped across the mattress for now, and there are leather straps on the armrests and at the foot of the mattress.

There are two windows on each of the west and north walls with blinds closed over them Tuesday. There are four separate offices on the other sides of the windows from which witnesses will watch the execution. Red letters above each window designate them as “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.”

A one-way mirrored window on the east wall hides what prison officials call “the chemical room” on the other side. There are four digital clocks in the execution chamber — each gives the time, the date and the temperature in the room. A long, black rod hangs down from the ceiling over the mattress with a microphone attached to it.

Just east of the execution chamber are three holding cells where Robert and Moeller will be housed before their executions.

Each cell has a toilet, a sink and a bed, as well as a white cabinet with three, open shelves that sits just to the right as you enter.

State statute allows the court to set the week of a scheduled execution, then leaves it to the warden to set a specific day and time depending on the needs of the institution and execution requirements, said Corrections spokesman Michael Winder.

The last inmate to be executed in South Dakota, Elijah Page, was put to death July 11, 2007, at the state penitentiary in Sioux Falls

SOUTH DAKOTA – SD death row inmate asks for execution to proceed – Eric Robert


June 13, 2012 Source : http://www.mitchellrepublic.com

SIOUX FALLS  — A man sentenced to death for killing a prison guard says the state Supreme Court’s decision to delay his execution to allow for a mandatory review is denying him his constitutional rights.

Eric Robert, 50, will ask the South Dakota Supreme Court to allow his execution to proceed and is proposing legislative changes to prevent similar cases in the future in briefs that are expected to be filed later this week or early next week.

Robert pleaded guilty to killing prison guard Ronald Johnson during a botched prison escape in April 2011. A judge sentenced him to death for the crime last fall, and his execution was set for May. But the South Dakota Supreme Court stayed the execution in February to allow more time for a mandatory review, which could delay the execution for up to two years.

In briefs not yet filed with the court but given to The Associated Press in an email, Mark Kadi, Robert’s lawyer, argues that Robert has a constitutional, due process right to be executed based on the trial court’s order.

“If this process will take up to (two) years as reported, Robert proposes we seek to answer the main underlying issue in this case: does a death row inmate have a constitutional right to die on time as ordered?” Kadi said in an email.

In the briefs, Robert proposed the Legislature consider changes to the law, allowing death penalty proceedings to be given priority in the state Supreme Court or, absent a voluntary appeal, requiring the court to review the case in a set number of days before the execution date.

The briefs noted that during the months since Robert was sentenced, the state Supreme Court has reviewed numerous cases, including civil cases such as the dispute between actor Kevin Costner and an artist about whether sculptures were appropriately displayed at a Deadwood resort.

“These civil cases are undoubtedly important to the parties involved regarding their equitable or monetary interests. Death penalty cases due to their special nature and consequences, however, deserve special consideration,” the brief said.

Attorney General Marty Jackley said he could not comment on the new briefs because he has not yet seen them. Under appellate procedure, the state is only allowed to file one brief, which it has already done.

Robert was serving an 80-year-sentence on a kidnapping conviction when he attempted to escape April 12, 2011, with fellow inmate Rodney Berget.

Johnson was working alone the morning of his death — also his 63rd birthday — in a part of the prison known as Pheasantland Industries, where inmates work on upholstery, signs, custom furniture and other projects. Prosecutors said that after the inmates killed Johnson, Robert put on Johnson’s uniform and tried to carry a large box toward the prison gate with Berget inside. The inmates were apprehended before leaving the grounds.

Berget also pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to death. Another inmate, Michael Nordman, 47, was given a life sentence for providing the plastic wrap and pipe used in the slaying.

The penitentiary made more than a dozen procedural changes less than a month after Johnson’s death, including adding officers and installing additional security cameras. Other changes, outlined in a 28-page report, included further restricting inmate traffic, strengthening perimeter fencing, improving lighting and mandating body alarm “panic buttons” for staff.

S.D. Supreme Court denies Eric Robert’s request for quick execution in guard’s murder


april 12, 2012 source : http://www.argusleader.com

The South Dakota Supreme Court has denied a death row inmate’s request for a quick execution.

Eric Robert, 49, filed a motion to vacate with the court earlier this year after the justices stayed his May execution. The court issued the stay in order to complete the sentence review mandated by South Dakota law in all death penalty cases.

Robert was sentenced to die by lethal injection in October for the murder of corrections officer Ron “R.J.” Johnson, which took place one year ago today.

Robert’s lawyers argued that the Supreme Court did not have the authority to stay an execution where no appeal has been filed. The inmate has not appealed his sentence or asked for clemency from Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

The high court rejected the notion that it doesn’t have the statutory authority to stay a sentence. The justices ruled unanimously that a sentence review is required, and that a stay can be issued as a part of that process.

“While it is true that this proceeding was not initiated by Robert filing a notice of appeal, it is an exercise of this court’s appellate jurisdiction to review the decision of a lower court – a proceeding upon appeal,” Chief Justice David Gilbertson wrote.

Robert and another inmate, 49-year-old Rodney Berget, attacked Johnson from behind with a metal pipe at the South Dakota State Penitentiary’s prison industries building. Johnson, who was filling in for an ill co-worker on his 63rd birthday, was the lone officer on duty that morning.

After beating him to death, Robert put on Johnson’s uniform and Berget climbed into a box atop a wheeled cart.

The inmates were captured as Robert tried to wheel the cart through the prison’s west gate.

Both men have been sentenced to die for the murder.

A third inmate, 47-year-old Michael Nordman, was given a life sentence for his role in the crime. Nordman, who worked in the prison industries building, traded the plastic wrap and pipe for a prison knife.

A dedication ceremony is planned in Sioux Falls today for the prison’s staff training center, which will be renamed in Johnson’s honor.

SOUTH DAKOTA – Eric Robert objects delayed death sentence


SIOUX FALLS, S.D.  – An attorney for a man sentenced to death for the killing of a prison guard is submitting a brief to the South Dakota Supreme Court objecting to the court’s decision to delay the execution.

Eric Robert, 49, pleaded guilty to killing prison guard Ronald Johnson and asked to be executed. His execution was for May, but the South Dakota Supreme Court vacated the execution in February to allow more time for a mandatory review to determine if the sentence is proper.

The review process could delay the execution for possibly two years.

Mark Kadi, Robert’s lawyer, says that while state statute requires a review, it also requires the execution to occur within eight months of the death sentence being handed down.

sourcehttp://www.ksfy.com