It's a walk he hasn't taken in quite some time. Charles Russell Rhines was back in the Pennington county courthouse Tuesday, where he was sentenced to death.
This time, he hopes, an appeal may prolong his life.
"The heart of the claims focused on the failure of Mr. Rhines
trial counsel. They didn't speak to his family until the trial had been going
on for a couple weeks, didn't' talk to his mother at all, didn't talk to people
he'd served in the military with," said Federal Public Defender Neil Fulton.
Rhines' defense team hopes success at trial could mean another shot at sentencing.
"He would have an opportunity for resentencing in front of a jury, it would not vacate
his conviction, just give him a new sentencing," said Fulton.
"When the trial first started in 1993, we told both sides, the defense and prosecution ...please do your very best to get this right. We don't want to do this over again," said Donnivan's mother Peggy Schaeffer.
Hearing after hearing, the Schaeffer family has had to
re–live their son's death, while sitting just yards away from his killer.
"Donnivan's death needs accountability, there's someone accountable for this. If its death, its death. All we want, all we've ever wanted, is the law, we want the law to be upheld," said Schaeffer.
"It is the greatest penalty that's available and so it requires the greatest caution," said Fulton.
Also in Rhines' appeal are allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, stemming from the language prosecutors used to describe the murder to the jury.
Rhines' appeal will be heard over four days in front of Judge Thomas Trimble, starting November 26th.