May 2015 Executions

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 3, 2015 South Dakota Ronald Edward Johnson , "RJ", 63 Rodney Berget stayed
Ron Johnson, murder victimOn April 12, 2011, in Minnehaha County, Eric Donald Robert and Rodney Berget killed State Corrections Officer Ronald Johnson with a metal pipe. The pair attacked the prison guard, wrapped his head in plastic shrink wrap and left him to die before using his uniform to sneak past security in an unsuccessful escape attempt. Ronald Johnson was working alone in a part of the Sioux Falls prison known as Pheasantland Industries, where inmates work on upholstery, signs, custom furniture and other projects. Robert put on Johnson’s brown pants, hat and lightweight jacket before approaching the prison’s west gate with his head down, pushing a cart with two boxes wrapped in packing tape, according to an investigator’s affidavit. Berget was hidden inside one of the boxes. Another corrections officer opened an inner gate and allowed Robert to wheel the cart into a holding area, but became suspicious when Robert didn’t swipe his electronic ID card. Robert claimed he forgot his badge and said main control was out of temporary cards. The officer then asked Cpl. Matthew Freeburg if he recognized the guard, and Freeburg said no. When the officer called for a supervisor, Robert started kicking and beating Freeburg and Berget jumped out of the box to join in. More officers arrived to find Berget still beating Freeburg. Robert had climbed the outer gate, reaching the razor wire on top. Both inmates were apprehended before leaving the grounds and taken to a jail in Sioux Falls. Freeburg was taken to a hospital, but returned to work the next day. Johnson, who had worked at the penitentiary for more than 23 years, was a father of two and grandfather of six. He died on his birthday, said his son, Jesse Johnson. "He loved to relax and play with his grandkids," Jesse Johnson told the Argus Leader. "He never had a bad thing to say about anybody." Jesse Johnson said his father, known to friends and family as R.J., had lived through a riot at the penitentiary in 1993 and knew the danger of his job but never dwelled on it. At the sentencing hearing for Robert, a witness who responded to the "code 5" call for help testified, "I saw the sergeant pulling the saran wrap off of RJ’s head, I knew it was RJ." Lynette Johnson, Ronald Johnson’s widow, said she has a hard time responding when one of her six grandchildren ask about their papa. Both Eric Robert and Rodney Berget were sentenced to death. Eric Robert was executed on October 14, 2012. Berget has been in and out of South Dakota’s prison system since the mid-1980s and is also serving life sentences for attempted murder and kidnapping. He was convicted of escaping from the penitentiary in 1984. In 1987, he and five other inmates again broke out of the same facility on Memorial Day by cutting through bars in an auto shop. He was caught in mid-July of that year.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 8, 2015 Pennsylvania Mark Lisby, 25
Michael J Waters , 16
Neil Wilkerson, 18
Anthony Reid pending
On July 9, 1988, Mark Lisby, the victim, took approximately Five-Hundred Dollars worth of "caps" (cocaine capsules) from his nephew Terrance. The next day, Mark Lisby informed Terrance that he had used the "caps" and did not have the money to pay him. Terrance worked for Lawrence Boston, and both of these men were attempting to obtain membership in the Junior Black Mafia ("JBM"). Boston and Terrance were working for Kevin Bowman, who was a member of the JBM. Once Mark Lisby realized that Bowman would be angry about the missing drugs, he met with Bowman to explain the situation and offered to replace the lost income the following week. On or about July 11, 1988, Boston, who had not been paid, appeared at the doorway of the Lisby household in Philadelphia. He was accompanied by Anthony "Tone Bey" Reid, who was a member of the JBM. After a brief conversation, Mark Lisby, Reid and Boston left the house and began walking west on Cumberland Street. As the three men approached the intersection of Cumberland Street and 31st Street, Reid shot Mark once in the center of his chest, once in the upper right chest just beneath the collar bone, and once in the back of his right leg. Mark died as a result of these gunshot wounds. Reid was free on bail awaiting trial on March 15, 1989, when he shot and killed Michael Waters, 16, after the boy and two friends threw snowballs and bottles at Reid’s car. Waters was pronounced dead within an hour at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. Six days after the Waters killing, police found two men lying in the stairwell a building in North Philadelphia. Neil Wilkerson, 18, was dead of gunshot wounds to the head and right side. The other man, Darryl Woods, 20, was shot in the stomach, right leg and left shoulder, but he survived. He later identified Reid from police photographs. On March 20 Reid engaged in a gunfight near City Hall which sent scores of panicked pedestrians running for cover as 10 to 15 shots were exchanged at the corner of 15th and Ranstead Streets. Reid was charged in the killing of Neil Wilkerson on April 10, while he was in custody for the City Hall shooting. The City Hall incident, in which a stray bullet grazed the leg of a bystander during a drug-related shootout between two rival groups, brought the arrests of a juvenile and Reid after a four-block chase. Police also recovered two 9mm semiautomatic handguns and two.38-caliber revolvers, and a gold-colored Pontiac that was abandoned near the scene.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 12, 2015 Missouri Kimberly Cantrell Kimber Edwards stayed
In 1990, Kimber Edwards and Kimberly Cantrell divorced. Kimberly received primary physical custody of their daughter, Erica, and Edwards was ordered to pay child support. In 1995, his child support obligation was raised to $351 per month. In March 2000, Edwards was charged with failing to pay any of his child support obligation for one year. He pleaded not guilty, and his case was set for a court appearance on August 25, 2000. Erica stayed with her father, his wife and their two children for three weeks prior to August 22, 2000, at their St. Louis city home. When Erica did not hear from her mother by August 23, and Kimberly did not arrive to pick Erica up, Erica called her aunt. The aunt went to Kimberly’s home and found her dead, shot twice in the head at close range. Kimberly’s 12-year-old neighbor told police he heard shots and a woman’s scream early in the evening of August 22, and his older brother had seen a black man with a black backpack banging on Cantrell’s door that afternoon. Ortell Wilson, a tenant in one of Edwards’ rental properties who matched the boy’s description ultimately was arrested for and convicted of murdering Cantrell. Wilson implicated Edwards in the murder, and Edwards was arrested August 27, 2000. Edwards waived his Miranda rights and told police he had hired someone named "Michael" to kill Cantrell for $1,600 and that Edwards had helped in the murder. The jury found Edwards guilty of first-degree murder, found the existence of one statutory aggravating circumstance and recommended the death penalty. The court sentenced Edwards to death.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 12, 2015 Texas Myiesha Bennett, 15
Brenda Bennett, 44
Obie Lee Bennett, 77
Derrick Charles executed

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 14, 2015 Ohio Gregory Lott stayed

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