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US executes murderer of young girl

SIOUX FALLS — A man convicted of the 1990 rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl was put to death last night in a South Dakota execution witnessed by the victim’s parents, who drove 1,400 miles from their New York home to watch him die.

Donald Moeller, 60, had professed his innocence for more than two decades before finally admitting in early October that he had raped and fatally stabbed Becky O’Connell after abducting her from a Sioux Falls convenience store where she had gone to buy candy.

Moeller was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 10:24 p.m. local time at the state prison in Sioux Falls, according to the state corrections department. He was the second convicted killer put to death in South Dakota this month, but only the fourth since 1913.

O’Connell’s mother, Tina Curl, and her stepfather, Dave Curl, drove from their home in Lake Luzerne, New York, to witness Moeller’s execution.

Photographs of Becky at age nine and a portrait of what she might have looked like at age 32 were displayed by the Curls at a news conference following the execution and posted by the Argus Leader newspaper on its website.

“He will no longer take another breath or hurt another child,” Dave Curl said of Moeller, adding that the execution would never give them closure, though there was some feeling of relief.

“Everyone keeps telling us to make this about Becky. There is no Becky because of Donald Moeller,” Curl said. “Whether right or wrong, we will hate that … until the day we die. May he rot in hell.” (Reuters)

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