RAPID CITY, S.D. — A Sturgis man accused of hiring others to kill his girlfriend will not face the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.

Jonathon Klinetobe has pleaded not guilty to multiple felonies including first-degree murder in the May 2015 stabbing death of 22-year-old Jessica Rehfeld. Her body was found in a remote grave near Rockerville a year later.

Prosecutors last year said they planned to seek the death penalty against Klinetobe should he be convicted. They announced during a Monday court hearing that they’re withdrawing that prospect.

The decision was made at the request of Rehfeld’s family, who said the death penalty could drag out the case for years and keep the family from recovering Rehfeld’s personal belongings kept as police evidence.

Klinetobe now will face a life sentence if convicted.

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.