Today's Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports, "Death penalty pending request for stay," by John Hult.
A federal judge said he will decide soon whether to stay the execution of twice-convicted murderer Donald Moeller after an attempt by an acquaintance to intervene in his case.
Donna Nichols, a woman who is not related to Moeller but refers to herself as a stepsister, filed a motion to be appointed “next friend” to him in an effort to continue an appeal Moeller chose to end earlier this month.
If appointed “next friend,” Nichols could act on behalf of Moeller and continue the appeal, which challenges the state’s execution protocol.
Moeller is scheduled to die by lethal injection during the week of Oct. 28 for the 1990 rape and murder of Becky O’Connell.
Judge Lawrence Piersol heard arguments Monday morning from Robert Van Norman, Nichols’ lawyer, as well as Moeller’s lawyer, Mark Marshall, and Attorney General Marty Jackley.
Marshall and Jackley both said Nichols lacks standing to intervene on behalf of Moeller, whom Piersol ruled was competent to end his appeal after a lengthy verbal exchange in court.
Regarding last week's South Dakota execution, the Argus Leader reports, "Death penalty called incentive for Robert," also by Hult.
The lawyer for a man executed this week says the death penalty created an incentive for his client to murder corrections officer Ronald “R.J.” Johnson.
Mark Kadi, who represented 50-year-old Eric Robert in the capital case, wrote a letter to the Argus Leader saying his client devised an escape plan that involved murder to ensure a death sentence in the event his escape failed.
“The availability of the death penalty encouraged rather than discouraged Robert to commit this crime,” Kadi wrote. “I know this because Eric told me so.”
After the murder in April 2011, Robert quickly pleaded guilty and insisted the judge issue a death penalty, then strongly objected to a mandatory Supreme Court review, which delayed his execution. He wrote a letter to Attorney General Marty Jackley earlier this month encouraging revisions to state law to guarantee a speedy death for a death row inmate who was not fighting it.
Jackley, who prosecuted the case, rejects the notion that Johnson’s murder was anything but a failed, “poorly executed” escape attempt.
Attorney Mark Kadi's letter to the Argus Leader is available in Adobe .pdf format.
"Lawyer: Death penalty gave SD inmate Robert incentive to kill guard during escape attempt," is the AP report, via the Republic.
A man executed for killing a South Dakota prison guard wanted to commit suicide and saw the death penalty law as an incentive, the man's attorney says.
Eric Robert was put to death last week for killing the guard, Ronald "R.J." Johnson, when he and fellow inmate Rodney Berget tried to break out of the prison in April 2011.
Robert pleaded guilty in September 2011 to killing Johnson, asked for a death sentence and objected to a South Dakota Supreme Court review of his case.
Robert was serving an 80-year prison term for kidnapping at the time of his attempted escape. His lawyer, Mark Kadi, said Robert wanted to end his own life rather than languish in prison, and planned his escape so that he would be eligible for a death sentence if unsuccessful.
"The availability of the death penalty encouraged rather than discouraged Robert to commit this crime," Kadi wrote in a letter to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader newspaper. "I know this because Eric told me so."
Earlier coverage from South Dakota begins at the link.
Volunteer is the term applied to inmates on death row who waive their appeals. Related posts are in the volunteer category index.