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October 09, 2012 05:57 PM

The Days Leading Up To An Execution

Sioux Falls, SD

In the next three weeks, South Dakota plans to execute two death row inmates.

Eric Robert's execution is planned for sometime next week. Robert killed Correctional Officer Ron 'RJ' Johnson during a failed prison break last year.

Donald Moeller's execution is planned for the end of the month more than two decades after he raped and killed nine-year-old Becky O'Connell.

The exact day and time of the upcoming executions won't be announced until 48 hours before they are scheduled.

Tuesday, KELOLAND News got a look at where the lethal injection will be administered and where the inmates will be held.

Right now, the admitted killers are currently sitting on death row in the maximum-security Jameson Annex of the South Dakota Sate Penitentiary.

Shortly before Robert and Moeller are executed, the men will be transported to a holding area near the death chamber. The main cell where they will stay only has a bed, a sink and a toilet. There are two other cells in the holding area. One is an extra cell and the other houses a shower. The inmates will be on 24-hour surveillance leading up to their execution.

When it is time for the execution, the inmate will be escorted out of the holding cell and walk about a dozen steps into the death chamber.

Once in the death chamber, the inmate will be strapped to the table.  The warden and a staff member trained to carry out intravenous injections will be in the chamber with the inmate.

Behind a two-way glass window there is a chemical room where the three, two or one-drug lethal cocktail will be mixed for the injection.

Four witness rooms surround the chamber. The blinds will remain closed until the warden is satisfied everything is ready and then they will be opened.

The Attorney General, the judge, the State's Attorney and the sheriff of the county where the crime was committed all must be invited to witness the execution. Two media witnesses are also allowed in, as well as families of the victim and the inmate.

Once the curtain is open, the inmate can make a final statement and then the drugs are administered.  Robert and Moeller will be the 17th and 18th men to be executed in the state of South Dakota.

The county coroner will conduct an investigation after the lethal injection to pronounce the inmate dead.

The witnesses all have to sign a Certificate of Execution that will be filed with the courts within 10 days of the execution.

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This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
A misspelling was corrected in this story.

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