Tonight’s Execution: Donald Moeller

UPDATE: Donald Moeller has been executed.

Donald Moeller

Donald Moeller, from Keloland TV

Tonight at 10 p.m. local time, South Dakota carried out their second execution in a month with the lethal injection of Donald Moeller at South Dakota State Penitentiary.

Moeller, 60, was the third execution in the state since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Previously, South Dakota executed Elijah Page in 2007 and Eric Robert this year on October 15. All three inmates were “volunteers,” meaning they dropped their appeals and asked for their execution to be carried out. Moeller’s execution leaves just three inmates on South Dakota’s death row.

Moeller was sentenced to death for the 1990 killing of Becky O’Connell. O’Connell had gone to the store to buy sugar to make lemonade. When she didn’t return, her parents grew worried. Hours later, her body was found near the Big Sioux River. She had been raped and stabbed.

O’Connell’s mother, Tina Curl, raised money to make the trip from her home in New York to watch Moeller die.

“He watched my daughter take her last breath. I want to watch him take his last breath,” Curl told The Associated Press. “I’m doing this for her and for me….It won’t bring me closure. It will bring me relief that he’s dead and he’ll never get to do this to anybody else’s child.”

For his part, Moeller fought against a variety of appeals filed on his behalf by his court-appointed attorneys and eventually ended up firing them earlier this month. He acknowledged his role in O’Connell’s death and said he wanted to pay for his crimes.

“I don’t want to die,” he told a federal judge. “I want to pay for what I owe.”

According to the Argus Leader‘s blog devoted to the two recent executions, “Moeller told Judge Lawrence Piersol on Oct. 4 that his lawyers wouldn’t let him drop the case. This summer, he wrote them a letter this summer instructing them in no uncertain terms to ‘cut the bulls**t,’ but it was no use.”

According to KDLT News, at that hearing, Moeller told the judge “I’ve killed. I deserve to be killed….If the rape and murder of Becky O’Connell doesn’t deserve the death penalty, then I don’t know what does.”

The judge granted Moeller’s request to drop the case.

By dropping his appeals, Moeller not only sped up his own execution, but also put a stop to the rising costs of his time on death row. An analysis by KDLT News estimates that during his 20 years in prison, Moeller has cost the state nearly $1 million.

Moeller recently did a video interview with Keloland TV about his life on death row. When asked if he knows he will be executed, he said,  “They are going to put poison in my veins and it will kill me. It may take five minutes. It may take 20 minutes; I accept that.” You can view the rest of that video here.

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard has released a statement on Moeller’s execution. In it, he says, “After more than 20 years, Donald Moeller finally admitted to killing young Becky O’Connell. He accepted his fate and dismissed attorneys who continued to oppose his execution. I take no pleasure in his death, but there are those who are so vile that executions are warranted. I hope this brings closure to Becky’s mother, and I again commend Warden Weber and his staff for their professionalism in planning this second execution this month.”

Moeller’s last meal included scrambled eggs, link sausage, tater tots and drip coffee.

According to this timeline of events, the execution began promptly at 10:01 p.m. and Moeller was declared dead at 10:24 p.m.

After the execution, the victim’s parents gave a statement to the media.

For a wealth of information on the execution, check out the Argus Leader‘s blog. It’s full of up-to-the-minute info about what’s happening with the execution, as well as background on Moeller’s case and executions in South Dakota.

Related Reading:

Moeller’s Life On Death Row

Execution Looms for Donald Moeller, Ending 22-Year Saga

Donald Moeller’s Execution Hours Away

NY Woman to Watch Daughter’s Killer Die in SD

Moeller’s 20-Year Stay on Death Row Cost the State Nearly $1 Million

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