Sioux Falls, SD
Donald Moeller says he's ready to die for raping and murdering nine-year-old Becky O'Connell, and he wants his federal death penalty appeal dismissed. But a team of federal public defenders from Arkansas argued Thursday that Moeller isn't competent to withdraw the lawsuit.
Federal Judge Lawrence Piersol and Donald Moeller talked about why the convicted killer wants to die during a hearing in Sioux Falls federal court Thursday.
Judge Piersol did not make a decision on dismissing the appeal challenging South Dakota’s method of execution, but said he will make a ruling soon.
Moeller is scheduled to be executed in just over three weeks during the week of October 28.
"The jury said it's just. The law says it’s just. The Bible says it’s just and I believe it's just,” Moeller told Piersol in explaining why he deserves the death penalty.
Judge Piersol had a 30-minute conversation with Moeller to determine if Moeller is competent and understands that giving up his federal appeal would pave the way for his execution.
Moeller said he's been in solitary confinement since August 1992 and has been reading the Bible and the Book of Mormon in prison. He says he wakes up, sweeps and dusts his prison cell every morning, reads the newspaper every day, watches NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and does a crossword puzzle every night.
"I've denied it for years until the last few years," Moeller said in talking about the murder of O’Connell.
Moeller went on to use a baseball analogy when he talked about why he wants to die now.
"I've been swinging for 22 years. I've been living with this, dealing with this and it's time," Moeller said.
South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley was in court for the conversation and believes Moeller made a competent statement to give up his federal appeal.
"I believe with the colloquy between the judge today and Donald Moeller that he does accept responsibility. That he's admitted his actions, and he's prepared really to accept the execution as the consequences for what he's done," Jackley said.
Piersol also asked Moeller if he knew how he was going to die.
"They are going to put poison in my veins and it will kill me,” Moeller responded. “It may take five minutes. It may take 20 minutes; I accept that."
Piersol said Thursday’s hearing was not to determine if Moeller will die for his crime, but when and how.
Piersol asked Moeller if he would rather die now or in six months. Moeller replied by saying, “Now.”