Sioux Falls, SD
Donald Moeller is now staring down death after his appeals were essentially exhausted when the U.S. Supreme Court denied his final attempt to avoid execution in June.
On Wednesday Minnehaha County Judge Kathleen Caldwell ordered that Moeller be put to death during the week of October 28.
Moeller walked into a Minnehaha County Courtroom Wednesday as a gray 59-year-old man, more than 22 years after he raped and killed nine-year-old Becky O'Connell in rural Lincoln County.
Moeller's attorney told the court that his client is ready to die.
"Just yesterday we again discussed that eventuality of execution and this hearing and Mr. Moeller specifically told me he accepts the execution as the consequences of his action," Moeller's attorney Mark Marshall said.
But, Tina Curl, who is O'Connell's mother and who now lives in New York state with her husband Dave Curl, says the only reason Moeller is ready to be put to death is because he knows he can't fight his sentence anymore.
"It took him 22 years to accept responsibility. I thought he kept denying it for 22 years. It's only because his appeals ran out. Now he wants to play the role of a man. He ain't one," Curl said.
Moeller did ask to be executed at an earlier time, during the week of August 6, Curl has her own theory for that selection.
"That's because he wanted one last birthday because his birthday is August 5 and he'll be turning 60, so he wanted one last birthday and then die the day after," Curl said.
Curl say she still thinks about her daughter every day and even has her name tattooed on her arm. She says she plans to come back to South Dakota to watch Moeller's execution because that's when her daughter will ultimately receive justice.
"When I see them pull the sheet over his head there will be justice for my daughter, but it's not going to bring her back," Curl said.
But it will help bring some closure to a case that started more than two decades ago.
The warden of the South Dakota state penitentiary will set the exact date and time for Moeller's execution when that week gets closer.
The Curl's are planning a fundraiser for their trip back to South Dakota since Tina is disabled and her husband is unemployed.