SOUTH DAKOTA – AG asks US Supreme Court to reject Moeller’s death-row appeal

may 7, 2012 source :

PIERRE (AP) — South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a death row inmate’s plea to overturn his conviction for raping and killing a Sioux Falls girl 22 years ago.

Donald Moeller last month petitioned the court to overturn his conviction based on what he described as incomplete jury instructions. Moeller maintains that the jury that sentenced him to death for the 1990 rape and murder of 9-year-old Becky O’Connell should have been told he would not have been eligible for parole had jurors sentenced him to life in prison. He contends that he might have received the death penalty because jurors falsely thought he could eventually be released on parole if given a life sentence.

Jackley on Monday said that the brief filed by the state in response to Moeller’s claim says jury instructions “fully comply with settled law and constitutional standards.”

Moeller was convicted and sentenced to die in 1997. The state Supreme Court affirmed the sentence, and Moeller has lost appeals on both the state and federal levels.

Moeller was convicted of abducting the girl from a convenience store, driving her to a secluded area, then raping and killing her. Her body was found the next day with a slashed throat and stab wounds.

Moeller initially was convicted in 1992 but the state Supreme Court ruled that improper evidence was used at trial and overturned the conviction.

“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.”

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