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Former Prosecutor: Crime Deserves Punishment

October 30, 2012, 10:07 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Former Prosecutor: Crime Deserves Punishment

Donald Moeller was first sentenced to die 20 years ago after a Yankton County jury found him guilty of rape and murder. Jeff Masten was the Lincoln County State's Attorney who prosecuted that case.

Masten was invited to witness the execution, but declined the invitation. He worked the case from the time nine-year-old Becky O'Connell's body was found until Moeller was sentenced to die the first time.

In 1992, Masten had this to say shortly after a jury handed down a guilty verdict against Donald Moeller.

"The jury did the right thing so I'm delighted," Masten said.

Twenty years later, Masten is working as a Chief Medical Physicist for a Wisconsin hospital. On Tuesday he is at a conference in Boston and talked to us over the phone about the execution.

"I had my doubts during the number of stages but I guess 22 years later it's just kind of a numb reaction to seeing the execution happen," Masten said.

While Masten says there were times when he was unsure if Moeller would ever be executed, he says the crime Moeller committed was so horrific that it deserved capital punishment.

"Actually it was the first time in the history of our state that that sort of crime was committed so on that level what he did deserved a response way above locking the cell door and throwing away the keys," Masten said.

Masten says the biggest satisfaction he's received recently related to this case is that Moeller has finally admitted to the crime. He says despite Moeller's numerous appeals the fact that Moeller's punishment is now going to be carried out is a testament to the investigators Masten worked side by side with in the early 90's.

"The Sioux Falls Police Department, the Division of Criminal Investigation, Sheriff Albers, all the people who worked on that case put together a case that stood 22 years of attacks in court, so that for me is the satisfying part in all of this," Masten said.

Masten said the Attorney General's Office sent him the news reports following Moeller's recent admission to the crime. He classified the news as a 'jaw-dropper.'

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