American facing lethal injection 18 years after brother was executed

Inmate withdrew his appeal in 2016, saying he could not face ‘another 30 years in a cage doing a life sentence’

Washington: A 56-year-old American man was facing death by lethal injection in South Dakota on Monday, 18 years after his brother was executed in Oklahoma.

Rodney Berget was condemned to death in 2012 for killing a prison guard during a failed escape bid, while serving a life sentence for two attempted murders and a rape.

At his trial, Berget said, “I believe I deserve the death penalty for what I have done.”

No one came

Despite that, his execution was delayed by several appeals. But in 2016 he withdrew his last appeal, telling the judge in charge of his case that he could not face “another 30 years in a cage doing a life sentence”.

His elder brother, Roger James Berget, was executed in 2000 in Oklahoma at the age of 39 for killing a math teacher whose car he was trying to steal. No family members attended his execution, local media wrote at the time.

US media said that the two men came from a troubled family rife with alcohol abuse and violence. Their father threw the older brother out of the home when he was just 10, his lawyer argued in his defence.

The challenge

Authorities in South Dakota – which has only carried out three executions since the death penalty was reinstituted in 1976 – announced last week that Berget would be executed on Monday.

Two lawyers challenged the execution, one arguing against the method of execution itself and the other on the grounds of Berget’s mental instability.

But there was no apparent stay of execution as the clock ticked down to the lethal injection on Monday.

Last meal

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley “has been in contact with the United States Supreme Court and confirms that there are currently no court orders to delay or stay the Berget execution scheduled for 1.30 pm CDT (1830 GMT) today,” his office said in a statement.

Berget ordered pancakes, waffles, sausage and boiled eggs as his last meal in the penitentiary in Sioux Falls, local media said.

Eighteen years earlier, his brother, Roger, had ordered a bacon cheeseburger with fried onions and a bottle of alcohol.



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