South Dakota Execution, Judge Weighs 27-Year-Old Homicide
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota judge will hear arguments Tuesday on whether to set an execution date for a man convicted of stabbing a former co-worker to death 27 years ago during a burglary at a doughnut shop.
The South Dakota Attorney General's Office argued in a recent court filing that Charles Rhines "has eluded justice for 27 years" and it's time for his execution to be carried out in early November. Judge Robert Mandel will hear arguments Tuesday morning from prosecutors and Rhines' attorney before deciding.
The Rapid City Journal reports Rhines was convicted of premeditated first-degree murder in 1993 for the death of 22-year-old Donnivan Schaeffer, who was stabbed in the stomach, back and skull.
Rhines' attorney, John Murphy, said the execution should be delayed because Rhines has two pending lawsuits, including one challenging the state's lethal injection protocol. The other lawsuit is against the warden of the South Dakota State Penitentiary, alleging the warden prevented Rhines from accessing experts his lawyers hired to help with his clemency petition.
"It makes much more sense to hold off setting an execution date in Mr. Rhines' case until that litigation is resolved," Murphy told the newspaper.
In their motion for setting an execution date, state prosecutors cite the failing health of Schaeffer's father and say delaying Rhines' execution could impact whether Schaeffer's father could "see justice done for his murdered son."
Rhines unsuccessfully tried to appeal his case to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear it. He argued that his sentence is unconstitutional, alleging the jury was homophobic and sentenced him to death instead of life in prison because they thought he would enjoy being in prison with other men.
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