Inmate who killed SD guard set to be sentenced

By the Associated Press | October 27, 2011 | 11:45 AM EDT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota inmate who pleaded guilty to killing a state penitentiary guard in a failed escape attempt faces sentencing after asking a judge to give him the death penalty.

Eric Robert is set to be sentenced Thursday. He pleaded guilty in September to killing Ronald "R.J." Johnson on April 12 in an attempt to sneak past other security. The 49-year-old Robert waived his right to a jury trial and asked to be put to death.

Second Circuit Judge Bradley Zell said the state still had to prove the death penalty was warranted. Zell has spent the last three days listening to testimony.

Robert had been serving an 80-year-sentence on a kidnapping conviction when he attempted to escape with 49-year-old Rodney Berget.