A defense lawyer for a South Dakota inmate who has acknowledged killing a prison guard in a failed escape attempt says his client is "not a monster."
Rodney Berget has pleaded guilty to attacking 63-year-old guard Ronald Johnson with fellow inmate Eric Robert. Second Circuit Judge Bradley Zell must find that at least one aggravating factor was present during the killing to sentence Berget to death. He also can consider mitigating factors when making his decision.
Defense lawyer Jeff Larson said during opening statements Monday in Berget's pre-sentencing hearing that there were three aggravating factors in the case but asked Zell to consider mitigating factors as well.
Attorney General Marty Jackley says he will present five aggravating factors during the hearing, which is expected to last all week.