By Marybel Rodriguez

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As the family of Jimmy Ryce wait for the execution of his killer, Juan Carlos Chavez, a special prayer service was held by the Archdiocese of Miami at St. Martha’s Catholic Church for both the Ryce family and the convicted killer.

“We recognize this is a very somber day in the history of South Florida as we look back 18 years ago for the horrific crime that was committed against a young innocent boy and react the only way we know how, through prayer,” said Joan Crown, director of Respect Life of the Archdiocese of Miami.

Crown asked in a prayer for God to comfort the family saying that, “an execution will not stop their grief and bring back their son, we understand that.”

The group also prayed for the man convicted of the heinous murder of Jimmy. Despite Chavez’s crimes, the Catholic Church remains opposed to capital punishment.

“Who are we to do judge God’s timing?” Crown asked. “He could have rendered his judgment and his justice long ago on this man and yet he hasn’t. So for us to step in and now say we are going to do what you haven’t done is to really question God’s judgment and we don’t believe that the correct thing to do.”

Inside the small chapel, the group gathered and prayed for all those who have been affected by the heinous crime. They said it’s a difficult day for all. ]

“It’s very mixed feelings because you feel for the family because it’s a child and you know children…they’re very innocent and on the other hand you know it’s killing solution with killing again.  It’s very, very hard feelings, very mixed feelings,” said Parishioner Elena Vidal.

Chavez is scheduled to die by lethal injection Wednesday around 6 p.m. at Florida State Prison in Starke. The Ryce family, represented by Jimmy’s father Don and brother Ted, will witness the execution.

More Coverage of The Jimmy Ryce Story And Chavez Execution


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