The South Dakota Supreme Court on Friday denied an appeal from a convicted killer who is scheduled to be executed early next month for the 1992 fatal stabbing of a young doughnut shop worker.
Charles Russell Rhines, 63, 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.
Attorneys for the state argued the execution policy is exempt from those requirements.
The high court agreed, upholding a lower court’s ruling and rejecting Rhines’ corresponding request to delay his execution, which is scheduled to take place the week of Nov. 3-9. The exact date will be announced two days before the execution.
“These decisions by the South Dakota Supreme Court brings us two steps closer to both justice and closure for the family of Donnivan Schaeffer,” 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 killing Donnivan Schaeffer, 22, who was stabbed in the skull, stomach and back while Rhines was burglarizing the Rapid City doughnut shop where Schaeffer worked.