Donald Moeller's Execution Hours Away
by Jill Johnson
October 30, 2012 5:54 PM
In a matter of hours, convicted killer Donald Moeller will be put to death by lethal injection.
South Dakota State Penitentiary staff members are getting ready for the third execution in the state in 65 years. The last was Eric Robert’s on Oct. 15.
A little more than a week ago, Attorney General Marty Jackley said Tina Curl, Becky O'Connell's mother, will witness execution of her daughter’s killer. It is unknown whether any of Moeller's family will be present. Two members of the media will also watch as Moeller is put to death.
But, before that happens, let’s take a look of what has what has led up to this day.
Take a look back to the spring of 1990, and you'll find that one cruel act flooded the headlines in South Dakota.
The press talked of a 9-year-old girl who was kidnapped from a convenience store in Sioux Falls.
She was taken to secluded areas near the Big Sioux River, raped and murdered. A day later, authorities found her body. She was stabbed multiple times, and her throat slashed.
The girl was Becky O'Connell. The person responsible: Donald Eugene Moeller.
Moeller had fled to Washington state, but was located nine months later. He was convicted for O’Connell’s rape and murder in 1992, but the conviction was later overturned. In 1996, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled that improper evidence was used at trial.
Moeller was convicted again in 1997. This time, the high court upheld the conviction.
Over the next two decades, Moeller would appeal his conviction, all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. They were all denied.
On June 4, 2012, the court would affirm his conviction. In July, an execution date was set.
"I feel it's important we carry through with this,” said Attorney General Marty Jackley. “I mean, you look at the Moeller case, this is two South Dakota juries unanimously holding that number one he did this and, it was horrific and number tow, based upon his conduct, the death penalty is the right action.”
Throughout all this, Moeller maintained his innocence. However, in August, his lawyer told a federal judge that he wanted nothing done to delay his execution.
Then, on Oct. 4, he said it.
In his own words, he looked at the judge and said, “I've killed. I deserve to be killed.”He told the judge, “If the rape and murder of Becky O'Connell doesn't deserve the death penalty, then I don't know what does.”
Despite his confession, 22 years later, Curl still has many unanswered questions. Recently, she wrote a letter to her daughter's killer, asking Moeller to tell her exactly what happened to her daughter.
But it seems those are details Moeller will most likely take to his grave.