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Moeller Denied Federal Habeas Relief

Moeller Denied Federal Habeas Relief 

PIERRE, S.D.-   Attorney General Marty Jackley reports that Donald Moeller was denied federal habeas corpus relief and his request to overturn his state conviction today.  In 1997, Moeller was convicted of the May 8, 1990, first degree murder and rape of 9-year-old Becky O’Connell and was sentenced to the death penalty.  Both Moeller’s conviction and sentence were affirmed by the South Dakota Supreme Court in State v. Moeller, 616 N.W.2d 424 (August 30, 2000). His state court request for habeas relief was denied by the South Dakota Supreme Court in Moeller v. Weber, 689 N.W.2d 1 (October 6, 2004). On March 31, 2009, the Honorable Lawrence Piersol issued a memorandum opinion and order denying federal habeas relief. The Federal District Court rejected all of Moeller's claims, including the argument that his sentence was disproportionate, that his trial counsel were ineffective in how they handled DNA and soil evidence, and that trial counsel failed to present mitigating evidence. After the March 31, 2009, decision, newly appointed counsel for Moeller filed a motion to alter or amend judgment denying habeas relief. The State filed objections to Moeller's motion and on April 9, 2010, the District Court concluded that no manifest errors of law or fact are present to justify relief from the courts initial order denying habeas relief to Moeller; thus, the March 31, 2009 order denying federal habeas relief to Moeller stands. Moeller has 30 days to file a further appeal within the parameters set by the District Court’s Certificate of Appealability with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals