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Death Penalty Opponents To Gather Across State

October 15, 2012, 5:56 PM by Hailey Higgins

Death Penalty Opponents To Gather Across State

As state officials prepare to execute Eric Robert, a coalition of several groups against the death penalty will gather outside in opposition to the sentence.

About 75 people are expected to gather for the vigil Monday night. It will officially start at 8-o'clock and the protestors will wear black bands around their arms in mourning for all who've died by execution in South Dakota.

"We don't want this event to go by without someone understanding that not everybody agrees with this way of dealing justice out," Mark Sanderson said.

Mark Sanderson and Leona Wieland are strongly against the actions being taken by the state judicial system against Robert.

"I'm just very sad because it's repeating what we hoped wouldn't happen," Wieland said.

They are both members of a coalition organizing a vigil in opposition to the death penalty. And while the state is enforcing the deadly punishment, Sanderson wants to make it clear not every South Dakotan is in favor. While proudly wearing a "Not in MY name" sticker, he says killing a man who has killed is the wrong solution.

"It isn't like we're favoring the perpetrator over the victim, but the person needs to be punished or have some time where he can deal with himself and maybe come around, understand who he is and what he did. But he won't be able to do that if he's killed," Sanderson said.

And while Robert admitted to the judge he will likely kill again, Wieland says his punishment should be life in prison without parole instead of death.

"I'm not saying we should treat people like animals but yes, I do think there are ways that you think we could control a situation so that we're not controlling more killing," Wieland said.

Similar vigils will be taking place across South Dakota including in Vermillion, Pierre and Rapid City.

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