Rhines Hearing: "painless" execution method debated - KOTA Territory News

Rhines Hearing: "painless" execution method debated

Posted: Updated: Dec 18, 2012 4:50 PM

He was sentenced to death almost twenty years ago, but Charles Russell Rhines is still fighting that verdict.
 
Rhines appeared in 7th circuit court Tuesday, guarded by three deputies, to challenge South Dakota's execution protocol.

The one drug method was argued by Rhines' attorney to be unconstitutional because it can, in some remote circumstances, delay death and cause brain damage, according to Dr. Michael Heath of Columbia University medical center.

Prosecutors with the South Dakota attorney general's office say the one-drug protocol is a quick and humane execution method because it stops an inmate's breathing within minutes, and they're unable to feel pain. 

Federal Public Defender Neil Fulton says even if the appeal is denied, Rhines plans to pursue follow up appeals to the South Dakota supreme court.

"It is not a delay tactic. We feel Mr. Rhines, even if he is executed, is entitled to be executed in a humane and constitutional fashion and we want to make sure that's done," said Fulton.

Rhines was convicted and sentenced to death in 1993 for the stabbing death of Donnivan Schaeffer, a 22-year-old Rapid City doughnut shop employee.

"It's going to take a while, oh maybe five years, six years. It all depends how fast it can move through the court system," said Peggy Schaeffer, mother of Donnivan Schaeffer.
 

Judge Thomas Trimble is expected to release his judgment in writing in the coming days.

Original story:

Convicted killer Charles Russell Rhines is challenging South Dakota's single-drug execution protocol.

Rhines appeared in front of 7th Circuit Judge Thomas Trimble Tuesday morning, guarded by three deputies.

Judge Trimble explained to the court that his decision will be decided through recorded depositions from medical experts and exhibits.

The morning was spent listening to the defense testimony from an anesthesiologist from the Columbia Medical Center.

He raised questions about the humane nature of the one drug protocol, and the qualifications of those administering the lethal dose.

Rhines nodded off a few times during the testimony.

The Schaeffer family as well as Dottie Poage, the mother of murder victim Chester Allen Poage, and five other Schaeffer supporters were in court.

Rhines was convicted and sentenced to death in 1993 for the stabbing death of Donnivan Schaeffer, a 22-year-old Rapid City doughnut shop employee.

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