SYNDEY Sutherland's family and friends feel her 'rapist killer' should receive the death penalty as they are "living a nightmare" months after her murder.
The 24-year-old nurse, who went missing while jogging near the Grubbs and Newport area of Jackson County, Arkansas, last summer, was found dead days later.
Farmer Quake Lewellyn initially admitted to police he mowed her down with his truck, drove her to a nearby field, then raped her on the tailgate of his vehicle, according to an affidavit.
He then told cops he used a shovel to dig a hole and buried Sydney's body, police records obtained by KATV show.
The 28-year-old has since denied the claims and has pleaded not guilty to capital murder, kidnapping, rape, and abuse of a corpse.
Prosecutor Ryan Cooper has revealed he is "absolutely" pursuing the death penalty in the case and her family are praying justice will be served, according to local reports.
Sydney's best friend Liz exclusively told The Sun: "The prosecutor seems to be pushing for it, and I hope it sticks.
"It's a slow process with a lot of motions having been filed so I'm sure it will be prolonged.
"I'm ready for it to be over so we don't have to see his nasty face in the news media.
"Everyone is still in shock and very heartbroken, we are all living a nightmare.
"Holidays, birthdays, Syd's nieces t-ball games, close friend's baby showers… It’s so hard to even go and not think about how she should be here.
"Everyday is a struggle, I see Sydney’s sweet momma just trying to be so strong for everyone but you can see the hurt in her eyes."
Quake's defense lawyers Bill James and Jeff Rosenzweig filed 48 different motions in Jackson County Circuit Court against the death penalty.
James said in court papers: "What happened was a horrible accident and nothing about it was intentional."
They also argued for a change of venue because "Lewellyn asserts that the minds of the inhabitants of Jackson County are so prejudiced against him, that a fair and impartial trial cannot be held in Jackson County."
“This case has been the subject of multiple local, national, and international news stories,” the motion continues.
"An attempt to assemble an impartial jury in a small-population county inundated with the case is bound to fail. Change of venue is the mechanism to vindicate that right to a fair trial before an impartial jury."
The court will have a hearing on July 6 and jury selections are scheduled to begin on September 28.
Sources tell The Sun Quake went to school with Sydney and even joined the search party for the missing nurse with her devastated family, who have been left feeling "sickened".
Sydney's mom, Maggie Sutherland, previously told The Sun exclusively she hopes he will be sentenced to death if convicted of murdering her daughter.
"He was very cruel to do what he did and the way that he did it," she said of Sydney's alleged killer.
"To me, he deserves the death penalty, he is a monster, an evil monster. She did not deserve any of that."
Liz said their community has been a great help in keeping "Sydney's light shining" and they are organizing a number of events in memory of Sydney, including softball and golf tournaments, and a self defense class.
They have also been working on a foundation for Sydney's memorial andset up scholarships in her name.
"We definitely have one of the most amazing communities," she said.
"Sydney was so special to many of us and she’s made such an impact on so many lives, we just want her to be remembered."
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