Friends of homicide victim pray outside courthouse before suspect's first appearance

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - The suspect charged in Sioux Falls's first homicide of 2017 made his first court appearance on murder and manslaughter charges Tuesday.

Twenty-five-year-old Joshua Rayvan LeClaire is accused of stabbing 28-year-old Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow to death on January 1.

A judge set his bond at $1 million cash-only.

Although the loss of Wounded Arrow is still very hard to digest, her close friends say Tuesday was a reason to feel positive and push forward.

Friends and family gathered outside the Minnehaha County Courthouse to remember Wounded Arrow.

"Coming here and actually being in front of the courthouse, actually doing our smudge ceremony, it brought a lot of emotion out," Franklin J. Whiting Jr., friend and neighbor of Wounded Arrow, said.

Her friends not only prayed for Wounded Arrow's soul, but for Joshua LeClaire.

"We all felt compelled to pray for that because I know that's what Jamie wanted," Whiting Jr. said.

"He in a way is a victim as well and his family, and pray for him because he needs some healing he needs to truly confess what he has done," Judy Silk, Wounded Arrow's sister-in-law, said.

Despite having a positive attitude, those close to Wounded Arrow say it was a very difficult day.

"To sit their in the court today to actually see him and know what he's done, it hurts," Silk said.

And although investigators say no evidence leads to Wounded Arrow's death being a hate crime, her friends believe it's still an opportunity to encourage equality for all.

"Today was a victory, and many days are going to be victory for us because she is actually bringing issues and things to the forefront," Whiting Jr. said.

"It still doesn't feel real, I mean seen him in there, I know she is gone, and he's there but a little bit is still unreal," Silk said.

Friends of Wounded Arrow will be holding a vigil open to everyone in the community Wednesday night at 5 p.m. in honor of her at the scene of the crime, the Cleveland Heights Apartments near 8th Street and South Cleveland Avenue.



 
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