Kealey Bultena

SDPB News Reporter

Kealey Bultena grew up in South Dakota, where her grandparents took advantage of the state’s agriculture at nap time, tricking her into car rides to “go see cows.” Rarely did she stay awake long enough to see the livestock, but now she writes stories about the animals – and the legislature and education and much more. Kealey worked in television for four years while attending the University of South Dakota. She started interning with South Dakota Public Broadcasting in September 2010 and accepted a position with television in 2011. Now Kealey is the radio news producer stationed in Sioux Falls. As a multi-media journalist, Kealey prides herself on the diversity of the stories she tells and the impact her work has on people across the state. Kealey is always searching for new ideas. Let her know of a great story! Find her on Facebook and twitter (@KealeySDPB).

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Kealey Bultena / SDPB

There's a reason they call it Turkey Day. People across South Dakota prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving with bountiful meals, and some forget to count the calories. Ahead of the big day, a Sioux Falls fitness expert has a few tips for managing the food-focused holiday.

South Dakota voters resoundingly disapprove of education overhaul passed during the 20-12 legislative session. Referred Law 16 failed this election, with nearly 70 percent of ballots opposing the measure. State Senator Deb Peters ran her re-election campaign unopposed. She championed the sweeping measure H-B 12-34 during the session.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A federal judge won't stay the execution of a confessed child killer who's scheduled to die next week. A woman who knows death row inmate Donald Moeller filed paperwork Friday asking the district court to delay the execution and examine Moeller's compentency.

Earlier this month, Donald Moeller asked a federal judge to throw out the only appeal that could have delayed his execution. The judge granted his request.

More than two dozen South Dakota economic development organizations want voters to support an incentive program for new companies, but opponents question the means of luring new businesses with bonuses.

Referred Law 14 creates a large project development fund, and the governor’s office gains the authority to choose which incoming businesses benefit from state grants.

Slater Barr is the president of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. He says companies that get the incentive money buy from local businesses and contribute to the state’s tax revenue.

SDPB news producer Kealey Bultena explains the Attorney General's brief of Measure 15.  Bultena talked with Andy Wiese, a representative of Moving South Dakota Forward, a coalition in favor of Initiated Measure 15, and  Jeremiah M. Murphy, who represents groups against Initiated Measure 15.  Initiated Measure 15 increases the state sales tax by one percent and designates that money to K-12 education and Medicaid providers.  Some groups say it's the most effective way to serve schools and Medicaid service providers after legislative cuts that haven't been restored.

South Dakota lawyers argue whether a death row inmate’s lethal injection should happen next week. Donald Moeller got his final appeal dismissed earlier this month and says he accepts the death penalty. Now a woman who says she’s Moeller’s friend wants the execution put on hold.

Donna Nichols didn’t appear in federal court, but her lawyer says she’s concerned Donald Moeller isn’t competent to waive his last appeal ahead of his execution. Rapid City lawyer Robert Van Norman says Nichols is Moeller's step-sister.

A South Dakota death row inmate who gave up all of his appeals has to return to federal court next week. That’s because an outside attorney has filed paperwork requesting a judge stay his planned execution.

Monday Donald Moeller must appear before Judge Lawrence Piersol in Sioux Falls. Donna Nichols is listed in court papers as a friend of Moeller’s. She asks the judge to prevent Moeller’s execution by lethal injection, which is scheduled for the week of October 28, 2012.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A longtime South Dakota politician says voters should carefully examine a ballot measure focused on economic development. State lawmakers spar over whether the Large Project Development Fund established in Referred Law 14 is the best way to entice big business to South Dakota.

People who witnessed the execution of confessed murderer Eric Robert had the opportunity to speak to local media following Monday night's lethal injection. Robert confessed to killing corrections officer Ronald Johnson during a failed escape attempt at the South Dakota State Penitentiary on April 12, 2011. Robert died the night of October 25, 2012. 

The attorney who represented Eric Robert in court throughout his murder trial says he’s willing to talk to the family of his client’s victim. Mark Kadi says, before he died of lethal injection, Robert authorized him to discuss some matters with Ron Johnson’s family.

"If certain details are needed, the Johnson family can, if they want to talk with me, they can. If they want to move on, and I hope they move on, they can do that, too."

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Four inmates sit on South Dakota’s death row now that convicted murderer Eric Robert is dead after Monday night’s lethal injection. All inmates who face the death penalty get an opportunity to speak last words.

At one minute after 10 p.m. Monday night in the execution chamber, South Dakota State Penitentiary Warden Doug Weber asked Eric Robert if he had any last words.

Robert replied, “In the name of justice and liberty and mercy, I authorize and forgive Warden Douglas Weber to execute me for my crimes. It is done.”

Kealey Bultena

Family members of murder victim Ronald "RJ" Johnson witnessed Eric Robert’s execution by lethal injection.

Johnson’s widow Lynette says her family knows the perpetrator’s death doesn’t bring back the husband, father, and grandfather taken from them on his birthday in April of last year.

"But we do know that the employees of the Department of Corrections and the public in general will be just a little bit safer now," she says. "We need to have more attention focused on the safety of all correctional officers in the state of South Dakota."

A man convicted of a murder that happened less than two years ago is dead following South Dakota’s first execution in five years.

Last fall, prison inmate Eric Robert was found guilty of killing a corrections officer at the state penitentiary in April of 2011. Monday night, prison staff injected pentobarbital into Robert’s body to kill him.

Michael Winder with the South Dakota Department of Corrections says the lethal injection began at 10:01 p.m.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

At 10 p.m. Monday, one of South Dakota’s death row inmates faces execution. Eric Robert is scheduled to die by lethal injection at the South Dakota State Penitentiary for killing a corrections officer less than two years ago. Although he has appeal available, Robert has never denied his role in the killing and says he won’t fight the penalty.  criminal and legal path to his execution.


A South Dakota death row inmate faces lethal injection Monday night. Eric Robert is scheduled to die at 10 p.m. for his role in killing a corrections officer during a failed escape attempt from the state penitentiary. 

Until his death, convicted murderer Eric Robert is in a holding cell, feet away from the execution room where he will die. Robert admitted to beating South Dakota State Penitentiary correctional officer RJ Johnson while he and a fellow inmate tried to escape in April 2011.

Kealey Bultena

South Dakota classrooms look far different now than they did even a decade ago. Students still use pencils to fill out worksheets and find information in their books, but elements of learning have moved from printed sheets to computer screens. That’s been fairly common for years, but now one school district is testing technology from a new vantage point.

Current high school chemistry classes are likely a little different than chem lectures of the past. In a Lincoln High School classroom, each student has his or her own personal periodic table. It’s illuminated on an iPad screen.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A longtime death row inmate has ended his court battle to delay his execution. Wednesday a federal judge accepted Donald Moeller’s request to throw out his challenge to South Dakota’s lethal injection protocol. That leaves him no options to appeal his death sentence. That’s scheduled for sometime during the week of October 28th.

It’s been more than 22 years since Donald Moeller raped and killed a 9-year-old girl. In October’s federal court hearing, the death row inmate admitted his guilt. 

A convicted murderer who denied any involvement for two decades now says his killed a little girl. In Thursday’s federal court case challenging South Dakota’s method of lethal injection, Donald Moeller himself answered questions aloud in his last action to avoid the death penalty.

A federal court hearing on South Dakota’s death penalty protocol moves forward Thursday, and the death row inmate involved must be in court.

Earlier this week, an attorney representing convicted child killer Donald Moeller filed paperwork asking a judge to dismiss the case. But attorneys may still argue about South Dakota’s lethal injection method.

A long-serving South Dakota death row inmate wants a federal judge to dismiss his case. The case is convicted child killer Donald Moeller’s last chance at appealing his death sentence. A federal judge in Sioux Falls was scheduled to hear the case Thursday, October 4.  

Tuesday Attorney Mark Marshall filed paperwork called a stipulation for dismissal on Donald Moeller’s behalf. It requests a judge dismiss the case Moeller lodged questioning whether South Dakota’s one-drug lethal injection method is cruel and unusual punishment.

Kealey Bultena

Just more than one month stands between voters and Election Day 2012. As people peruse political flyers and competing candidate handouts, most notice the political party line. Not everyone wants voters focused on labels, though, and a Sioux Falls gathering is designed to distract from partisan politics.

They call it the No Party Party. Lively chatter proves festive conversation isn’t banned. Rather political party labels are off-limits.

South Dakota’s Supreme Court is set to hear arguments this week on the campus of a Sioux Falls college. The high court hosts three days of oral arguments at the University of Sioux Falls.

The court hears oral arguments for eight cases. Monday’s most well-known case is the State versus Rodney Berget. In November of last year, Berget pleaded guilty to killing a state penitentiary correctional officer earlier in 20-11. He received the death sentence. Now Berget appeals that penalty. The state Supreme Court is obligated to review the death sentence case, even if Berget didn’t appeal.

South Dakota’s largest city now officially bans texting while driving. A Sioux Falls city ordinance goes into effect Friday that makes it illegal to text or email when behind the wheel.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakota lawmakers are examining economic issues facing Native Americans. Legislators have several months – and an election – before the new session begins, but they’re holding interim meetings and work sessions. Lawmakers on the State and Tribal Relations committee heard testimony Thursday about stimulating growth in Indian Country. But some businesses are attracting scrutiny.

Kealey Bultena

Out of every one hundred South Dakota high school students, 16 of those won’t graduate on time. Earlier this week, SDPB Radio examined some high schools’ efforts to keep kids in class. The methods show promise, but they don’t work for every student. This Dakota Digest explores what happens when a student can’t complete their coursework in four years, even with their educators’ help.

Kealey Bultena

South Dakota won’t establish its own health insurance exchange. That’s the decision from Governor Dennis Daugaard. The Affordable Care Act requires each state have an exchange in place by 2014, and all states have the option of creating their own or using one set up at the federal level.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A new report released Tuesday shows South Dakota’s unemployment rate is better than other states around the country, but that doesn’t mean the state is thriving during this economic recession.

As part of a national voting movement, South Dakota’s Secretary of State tours some area colleges this week. Tuesday marks National Voter Registration Day, and Secretary of State Jason Gant has events scheduled at four southeast South Dakota locations.

Starting Friday, South Dakotans who have made up their minds can vote. State law allows people to fill out their choices on the ballot any time between now and November’s election day. The early-voting option applies to any of the state’s 500,000 registered voters.

Forty-six days before the polls open across South Dakota, registered voters can cast their ballots for November’s election. Secretary of State Jason Gant says absentee voting benefits more voters than only people out of the area on election day; he says anyone who votes in the state can consider voting ahead of time.

Kealey Bultena

Click the first "Listen" option above to hear the Dakota Digest that airs on SDPB Radio. Select the second "Listen" option to hear complete interview with Doctor Carl Hammerschlag. The conversation includes one of his experiences with legendary physician Patch Adams.

Health care as we understand it is changing. That’s the message a nationally recognized psychiatrist offers hundreds of South Dakota health care professionals. Doctor Carl Hammerschlag explains that he welcomes a new perspective in health care.