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The Latest: South Dakota inmate makes joke during execution

FILE - In this April 13, 2011 file photo, Rodney Berget, who was convicted of killing a Sioux Falls prison guard during an escape attempt, is escorted to court in Sioux Falls, S.D. South Dakota has set Monday as the execution date for Berget. Berget is one of two inmates convicted in the 2011 killing of guard Ronald Johnson during a failed escape attempt at the state prison in Sioux Falls. The other inmate, Eric Robert was executed by lethal injection in 2012. (Elisha Page/Argus Leader via AP, File)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The Latest on the execution of South Dakota inmate Rodney Berget (all times local):

9:05 p.m.

A South Dakota inmate put to death for the 2011 killing of a prison guard in a failed escape joked in his last words about a several-hour delay to his execution.

Rodney Berget was killed by lethal injection Monday for the 2011 killing of Ronald “R.J.” Johnson. The execution, originally scheduled to be carried out at 1:30 p.m. CDT, was delayed for hours while the U.S. Supreme Court weighed a last-minute legal bid to block it.

Before he was executed, Berget said, “Sorry for the delay, I got caught in traffic.” The 56-year-old inmate was soft-spoken and appeared emotional. He also thanked people for their support.

After the drug was administered, Berget groaned. He drifted off and snored briefly before his eyes closed. He was pronounced dead at 7:37 p.m. CDT.

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8:45 p.m.

The widow of a South Dakota prison guard killed during a failed 2011 escape says her husband experienced “cruel and unusual punishment,” but his killer’s execution was “peaceful” and “sterile.”

Lynette Johnson, wife of correctional officer Ronald “R.J.” Johnson, spoke Monday after witnessing the execution of 56-year-old inmate Rodney Berget, saying the crime scene in which her husband died is embedded in her mind.

A state Department of Corrections spokesman says Berget died at 7:37 p.m.

Berget and fellow inmate Eric Robert beat Johnson with a pipe and covered his head in plastic wrap. Robert was executed in October 2012.

Lynette Johnson says the executions held Robert and Berget accountable and asked people not to feel bad for them. She says someone has to be “pretty evil” to be on death row.

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8:15 p.m.

South Dakota has executed a 56-year-old inmate for the killing of a prison guard in a failed escape seven years ago.

Rodney Berget was killed by lethal injection Monday for the 2011 killing of Ronald “R.J.” Johnson. Berget and fellow inmate Eric Robert beat Johnson with a pipe and wrapped his head in plastic before taking his uniform in their escape attempt.

Robert was executed in October 2012. South Dakota’s last execution was later that month.

Berget’s mental status and death penalty eligibility played a role in court delays. He eventually dropped appeals.

Berget wrote to a judge saying he thought the death penalty would be overturned and that he couldn’t imagine spending “another 30 years in a cage doing a life sentence.”

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6:40 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court has cleared the way for the execution of a South Dakota man who killed a prison guard in a failed 2011 escape attempt.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says the high court denied a request Monday from attorney Juliet Yackel to stay the execution of 56-year-old Rodney Berget.

Berget’s execution was delayed for more than five hours, but Jackley says it will move forward Monday evening. The state Supreme Court earlier denied a motion from Yackel arguing that Berget lacks the intellectual capacity to receive capital punishment. Berget asked that court to dismiss Yackel’s petition.

Berget is to be put to death for the slaying of Ronald “R.J.” Johnson in a failed 2011 escape. Berget and fellow inmate Eric Robert beat Johnson with a pipe and covered his head in plastic wrap.

Robert was executed in 2012. Berget in 2016 appealed his death sentence, but later asked to withdraw it.

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2:20 p.m.

South Dakota’s attorney general says the state is waiting for direction after a lawyer asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the execution of an inmate who killed a prison guard.

Rodney Berget was scheduled to be put to death at 1:30 p.m. Monday. Attorney General Marty Jackley said after the scheduled execution time had passed that he would address reporters once a decision is reached.

Attorney Juliet Yackel says in her U.S. Supreme Court filing that Berget is intellectually disabled. The state Supreme Court earlier denied a motion from Yackel arguing that Berget lacks the intellectual capacity to receive capital punishment. Berget asked that court to dismiss Yackel’s petition.

Berget is to be put to death for the slaying of Ronald “R.J.” Johnson in a failed 2011 escape.

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11:55 a.m.

A lawyer who unsuccessfully asked South Dakota’s highest court to stop the death sentence of a man who killed a prison guard has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to stay his execution.

Rodney Berget is to be put to death at 1:30 p.m. Monday. Attorney Juliet Yackel says in the U.S. Supreme Court filing that Berget is intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for the death penalty.

The state Supreme Court earlier denied a motion from Yackel arguing that Berget lacks the intellectual capacity to receive capital punishment. Berget in an affidavit asked that court to dismiss Yackel’s petition.

Berget is to be put to death for the slaying of Ronald “R.J.” Johnson in a failed 2011 escape. Berget and fellow inmate Eric Robert beat Johnson with a pipe and covered his head in plastic wrap.

Robert was executed in October 2012.

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11:30 a.m.

A South Dakota inmate facing execution has received a last meal that included pancakes, waffles, breakfast sausage, scrambled eggs and French fries.

Corrections officials say Rodney Berget also ordered Pepsi and Cherry Nibs licorice for his last meal. It was served Sunday night.

Berget’s execution is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday.

He’s to be put to death for the slaying of prison guard Ronald “R.J.” Johnson in a failed 2011 escape. Berget and fellow inmate Eric Robert beat Johnson with a pipe and covered his head in plastic wrap.

Robert was executed in October 2012. Berget in 2016 appealed his death sentence, but later asked to withdraw it.

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9:05 a.m.

South Dakota’s attorney general says the state Supreme Court has rejected two motions to stop the execution of a man who killed a prison guard in a failed 2011 escape attempt.

Attorney General Marty Jackley says there are currently no court orders to stop or delay Rodney Berget’s execution, which is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday. One motion was filed by a woman whose son is serving a life sentence, the other by an attorney without Berget’s support.

Berget is to be put to death for the slaying of Ronald “R.J.” Johnson. Berget and fellow inmate Eric Robert beat Johnson with a pipe and covered his head in plastic wrap.

Robert was executed in October 2012.

Berget in 2016 appealed his death sentence, but later asked to withdraw it.

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12 a.m.

A man who killed a South Dakota prison guard in a failed 2011 escape is facing execution in what would be the state’s fourth lethal injection since reinstating the death penalty in the late 1970s.

Rodney Berget is scheduled to die Monday for the slaying of Ronald “R.J.” Johnson.

Berget and fellow inmate Eric Robert beat Johnson with a pipe and covered his head in plastic wrap. Robert was executed in October 2012.

South Dakota’s last execution was later that month.

Berget in 2016 appealed his death sentence, but later asked to withdraw it. Berget wrote to a judge saying he worried the death penalty would be abolished and he feared spending “another 30 years in a cage.”

Johnson’s family plans to attend the 1:30 p.m. execution.

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