South Dakota inmate on death row loses 2 appeals in 1 day
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A convicted killer in South Dakota who is scheduled to be executed early next month for the fatal stabbing of a young doughnut shop worker lost two appeals on Friday.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a request by Charles Russell Rhines, 63, to meet with mental health experts to prepare a clemency application. The three-judge panel said the question of whether Rhines deserves clemency should be decided by the South Dakota governor.
“It still appears that Rhines still has an opportunity to seek and obtain relief by means of the state’s statutory and/or constitutional framework,” Circuit Judge Jane Kelly wrote of the court’s decision.
Earlier Friday, the South Dakota Supreme Court rejected Rhines’ request to delay his execution, which is scheduled to take place the week of Nov. 3-9.
Rhines had argued that the state’s execution policies are invalid because they don’t follow the rule-making requirements of South Dakota’s Administrative Procedures Act, which governs how new policies are implemented. The high court agreed with the state’s premise that the execution policy is exempt from those requirements.
“This dismissal by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals further shows that Rhines has had his day in court at the state and federal levels and the hour of justice is rapidly approaching after 27 years of suffering by the Schaeffer family,” the state attorney general, Jason Ravnsborg, said in a statement.
Rhines’ attorneys, who didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment, are also challenging the use of pentobarbital in his execution. The drug is commonly used to euthanize animals and has been used in recent executions in South Dakota and in Georgia, Missouri and Texas.
The inmate’s attorneys argued in a complaint filed this week that pentobarbital is not an ultra-short-acting barbiturate and that by using it, the state would be violating Rhines’ right to choose his manner of execution and his right to due process. A circuit court is scheduled to hear that challenge Tuesday.
Rhines was sentenced to death for the 1992 killing of Donnivan Schaeffer, 22, who was stabbed in the skull, stomach and back while Rhines was burglarizing the Rapid City doughnut shop where Schaeffer worked.