SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Tina Curl was so eager to see her 9-year-old daughter's killer executed Tuesday night that she couldn't even take her seat in the witness room. "I was right up to the glass," she said in an interview after the execution. "I wanted to see it up close."
Donald Moeller, 60, received a lethal injection Tuesday night at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls as punishment for the 1990 kidnap, rape and killing of young Becky O'Connell.
Ms. Curl, who said Moeller's death brought her relief but not closure, had been steadfast in her wish to watch him die, even raising funds to cover her expenses to make the 1,400-mile trip from her home in New York state to Sioux Falls for the execution. Late Tuesday, she said she will never return to South Dakota.
Moeller kidnapped Becky from a Sioux Falls convenience store where she'd gone to buy sugar to make lemonade at home. He drove her to a secluded area near the Big Sioux River, then raped and stabbed her. Becky's naked body was found the next day; investigators said her throat had been slashed.
After the execution, Ms. Curl showed photographs of Becky at 9 years old followed by a framed drawing of how she might have looked were she still alive today, at age 32.
Ms. Curl said she wanted to know details about the crime from Moeller. She had written to him in prison, but he didn't respond. She was hoping to get that information Tuesday night in his final statement. But when asked if he had any last words, Moeller replied, "No sir," and then looked up and said, "They're my fan club?" It's not clear whom he was referring to as his fan club.
Moeller then was administered a lethal injection of pentobarbital and took about eight heavy breaths before his breathing stopped, and he turned slightly pink. His eyes remained open as his skin turned ashen, then purple. The coroner then checked for vital signs, and Moeller was pronounced dead at 10:24 p.m.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard said he hoped that the execution would bring some peace to Becky's family, and he commended Warden Doug Weber and his staff for their professionalism in planning this state's second execution in less than a month. "I take no pleasure in his death, but there are those who are so vile that executions are warranted," Mr. Daugaard said in a statement.
Moeller initially was convicted in 1992, but the state Supreme Court overturned that verdict, ruling that improper evidence was used at trial. He was again convicted and sentenced to die in 1997. The state Supreme Court affirmed the sentence.