South Dakota is responding to a death row inmate's petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On April 25, Donald Moeller petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn his 1997 conviction for the rape and murder of 9-year-old Becky O'Connell of Sioux Falls. Moeller claims the sentencing jury required further instruction from the court on the meaning of the term "life without parole" before it could sentence him to death.
On Monday, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley filed a brief arguing the court should affirm the conviction. The brief asks the justices to deny Moeller's petition because the instructions in Moeller's case fully comply with settled law and constitutional standards.
"Two juries of South Dakota citizens have heard the facts of this case and both unanimously decided that Moeller's crime warranted a death sentence," Jackley said in a statement. "Twenty-two years and seven appeals to hold Moeller accountable and to await justice for Becky and her family is clearly too long."