SIOUX FALS, SD -
Donald Moeller has a date with death more than two decades after he raped and murdered nine-year-old Becky O'Connell.
Moeller has been appealing his conviction and death sentence for 22 years, but now his execution date is set and Moeller says he accepts the punishment.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Moeller's final effort at appealing his death sentence. That's what led to Wednesday's hearing where Moeller's attorney said the old and gray 59-year-old is now ready to face the punishment he was sentenced to 15 years ago.
During Wednesday's court hearing, Attorney General Marty Jackley asked Judge Kathleen Caldwell to set a date for Moeller's execution because his appeals have essentially been exhausted; Moeller and his attorney didn't oppose the move.
Mark Marshall started representing Moeller in 2001.
"During our first meeting, Mr. Moeller discussed with me his options recognizing that this day may eventually come," Marshall said.
And Wednesday, Judge Caldwell ordered that Moeller's execution happen during the week of October 28. The warden of the penitentiary will pick the exact date and time when that week gets closer.
Marshall said Moeller 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," Marshall said.
"Certainly this is a day we are taking a step in the right direction for a nine-year-old little girl's family to bring some closure to what happened a long time ago," Jackley said.
Moeller is still challenging the types of drugs South Dakota uses for executions in federal court, and Jackley believes that case is about to be thrown out.
"Right now our position, or my position, is that that federal case is ripe for dismissal. We believe the state protocols follow the Constitution. We believe those cases have been litigated and that there are no further Constitutional issues," Jackley said.
And that is why a man who has sat on death row for more than a dozen years is just months away from dying.
Moeller did request that he be put to death during the week of August 6; O'Connell's mother, Tina Curl, says that's because his 60th birthday is on August 5.
Curl says she didn't ever think she'd see this day.
"With all my health problems, I never thought I'd see this day. I thought he'd out live me and I want to be there to watch. I will be there," Curl said.
Curl and her husband now live in New York state and they are planning a fundraiser for their trip back to South Dakota for the execution because she is on disability right now and her husband is unemployed.
Click on the play button below to watch the Moeller hearing
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