Prayer vigil held as Rhines' execution is on hold

A sign protesting South Dakota's death penalty is erected at the state prison on the day Charles Russell Rhines was set to be executed for killing Donnivan Schaeffer. (KSFY)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - An emotional prayer vigil for the execution of Charles Rhines was held on the front lawn of the South Dakota State Penitentiary on Monday afternoon.

Those attending say they don't support the death penalty and grieve for both families involved.

Prayers were sent out to all of the people who are currently on death row, specifically those in South Dakota.

A group of people who are not in favor of the death penalty gathered to pray for Charles Rhines and Donnivan Schaeffer.

"The younger generation when they grow up is going to look back on our time and say you did what? You kill human beings? Why would you want to do that?" South Dakota Alternatives to the Death Penalty Director, Denny Davis said.

A group of peaceful protestors held a prayer service outside of the South Dakota State Penitentiary to voice their concerns for the death penalty and pray for all affected.

"It seems to me that only god has the right to determine the length of a person’s life," protestor Henry Knapp said.

"And especially when you meet the guys on death row we have almost 3,000 in this country that is on death row. 3,000 of our citizens and so it hurts, it's painful but that's another reason why we pray," Davis said.

For nearly 27 years they've waited for this day to come. Some saddened to lose a friend and others fighting for death row inmate's lives to be saved.

"When you get to know a human being for who they are and then you have to do a day like this it's hard," Davis said.

A chilling day outside, all huddled up in lawn chairs with rosaries around necks and hands. They say ‘not in my name.’ Protest signs picket the ground saying ‘end the death penalty’ and ‘South Dakota stop killing.’

"We want them to know that we're not here against them we are here against what's going on today and that's the killing of a human being," Davis said.

"So this a prayer vigil and so I’m going to be praying that there will be an end to the death penalty in our state," Knapp said.

They say it should be about all life and not killing someone who has once killed before.

"Is this really who we are in this state? I think the people in South Dakota are good people and I think once they realize what's really going on here that we're killing someone who has killed to say that killing is wrong maybe they'll look twice," Davis said.

Protestors say in no way are they trying to condemn anyone for what's going on, but simply bringing awareness to what they call an overdue problem.

Those who attended say they support alternatives to the death penalty, but they’re not happy with the high court’s decisions this far.

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