Sioux Falls, SD
Death row inmate Donald Moeller says he is not friends with nor is he even related to the woman who is trying to stop his execution.
Donna Nichols recently filed of stay of execution motion. She claims to be Moeller's step-sister and is now trying to speak on his behalf.
Attorney General Marty Jackley says Nichols' motion to be appointed Moeller's "next friend" doesn't have any legal standing."
Convicted for raping and murdering nine-year-old Becky O'Connell in 1990, the 60-year-old has said he is ready to die. However, Nichols' claim questions whether Moeller is competent and able to make that decision. If she is named "next friend" Nichols could choose to continue to appeal Moeller's execution.
In federal court on Monday, Moeller spoke about Nichols and her mother and said he has not seen her in two years.
"She is not family and she's not been a friend," Moeller said. "They know my position. I've spelled it out that I'm going to be executed."
Moeller says Nichols is the daughter of the woman who married Moeller's stepfather, meaning Nichols does not actually have blood or legal relationship to Moeller. This is why Attorney General Marty Jackley said Nichols' claim does not have the legal right to make this motion.
Jackley and Moeller's attorney Mark Marshall both told Judge Lawrence Piersol that Nichols cannot speak on Moeller's behalf. Earlier this month, Arkansas-based attorneys tried to prove Moeller is incompetent, but the motion was dismissed. Jackley also said Moeller proved himself to be competent when he chose to stop fighting his death sentence.
"Number one, accepted the responsibility for his actions, for in his words, the kidnapping, rape and murder of a little girl. Number two, he understood the basic premise of the lethal injection process," Jackley said.
Jackley says after more than 20 years of appeals, it is time to move forward with this execution.
"I think we've really exhausted the necessary due-process. The state has demonstrated through the Eric Robert sentence that we can proceed with a constitutionally sound and humane execution," Jackley said.
Donna Nichols was not in court today. Instead her attorney, Robert Van Norman, represented her via video conference. Judge Piersol said he will give his opinion "promptly." Moeller is scheduled for lethal injection the week of October 28.