State prosecutor says Robert's execution likely - KOTA Territory News

State prosecutor says Robert's execution likely


Eric Robert is scheduled to die by lethal injection next week for killing prison guard Ronald Johnson last year in a failed escape attempt. Now, a state prosecutor believes it will happen as planned.

Lawrence County State's Attorney John Fitzgerald says he believes the execution will take place as scheduled, especially since Robert has accepted his fate and has begged for the death penalty.

"When someone's case has been heard by the South Dakota Supreme Court and ruled that the punishment is constitutional and is basically volunteering to go through with the execution - to derail it at this point is not impossible but really improbable," said Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald was the prosecutor in the Elijah Page case. Page was executed in 2007 after his sentence with death was delayed for a year because of an ethical debate about the cocktail of drugs used for the lethal injection. Fitzgerald says there are always a number of factors that could change the fate but given Robert's position Fitzgerald says it's very unlikely.

"It's always possible because you are dealing with a number of potential courts that could weigh in," The State's Attorney said. "But, I think it's exceedingly rare if not close to impossible, based on the circumstances presented."

The exact day Robert is scheduled to be put to death won't be released until 48 hours prior to the execution. Elijah Page's execution was delayed just five hours before it was scheduled.

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