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South Dakota Executes for Rape and Murder

Donald Moeller, a South Dakota inmate was executed in October 2012 for the 1990 stabbing and rape which resulted in the death of Becky O’Connell, a 9-year-old girl, according to Associated Press. The girl disappeared after leaving her home to purchase sugar at a store to make lemonade.

Moeller, age 60, got a lethal injection at a South Dakota penitentiary in Sioux Falls. Moeller was administered the injection at 10:01 p.m on a Tuesday night. The execution is South Dakota’s second execution this October. Eric Robert killed a South Dakota prison guard, Ronald “R.J.” Johnson, during a failed attempt to escape from prison.  Robert was executed in early October 2012. The executions are unusual because the state carried out only two other death sentences since 1913.

Moeller took an estimated eight breaths before his breathing stopped. He turned pink, and his eyes remained open. His skin turned ashen, then purple. The coroner checked for vital signs, and he was pronounced dead at 10:24 p.m.

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Moeller kidnapped the 9-year-old girl from a Sioux Falls convenience store, where O’Connell was driven to a secluded area near the Big Sioux River.  She was raped and murdered, with her naked body left for investigators to find. Her throat had been slashed, and her mother, Tina Curl, wished to watch Moeller die. Curl raised funds to cover the expenses for a 1,400-mile trip from her home in New York to Sioux Falls for the execution.

After the execution, Curl showed photos of her daughter at age 9, followed by an artist’s photo of what her daughter would have looked like at age 32. Dave Curl, the girl’s father said:  “The death of Donald Moeller is not going to give us closure,” according to the Associated Press.

Moeller was convicted and sentenced to die in 1997. The state Supreme Court affirmed the sentence, and he lost appeals on at the state and federal levels. Several motions were filed on Moeller’s behalf to halt the execution. In July 2012, he said he was ready to accept death as the consequence of the child’s death. He admitted in court that he killed the child:  “I killed. I deserve to be killed,” according to the Associated Press.

Some people do not believe in execution because they think criminals can be reformed.  These people may think revenge and retribution are not the only ways to deal with those convicted of crimes. Victim’s rights and restorative justice are concepts that focus on fixing the harm caused by criminal behavior, and require addressing the rights and responsibilities of victims, courts, and the society.

South Dakota Executes for Rape and Murder by

  • confused

    The headline says the execution was “for rape.” The first sentence says he was executed for “stabbing” her. It was more than just some stabbing, wasn’t it? He murdered her.

    Why don’t the headline and first sentence say that he was executed for the rape and *murder* of the girl? That’s what all the other news accounts are saying.

  • aostler

    Thank you for pointing this out. The headline was changed in this article.

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