Judge sets trial on SD man's death sentence appealRAPID CITY (AP) — A South Dakota judge scheduled a November trial on a convicted murderer's request to reopen his death-penalty case.
RAPID CITY (AP) — A South Dakota judge scheduled a November trial on a convicted murderer's request to reopen his death-penalty case.
Charles Rhines has filed a petition claiming that South Dakota's death penalty law is unconstitutional. He contends prosecutors violated his rights, that the judge at his trial improperly dismissed a juror and that his defense lawyer was ineffective during his sentencing.
On Tuesday, Circuit Judge Thomas Trimble set a Nov. 26 opening date for a trial on Rhines' petition. Trimble set aside four days for the proceeding.
Rhines was convicted of murder and sentenced to death for the March 1992 stabbing of Donnivan Schaeffer at a Rapid City doughnut shop. Authorities contend Schaeffer, 22, a part-time employee at the shop, had surprised Rhines during the burglary.
Donnivan Schaeffer's parents, Ed and Peggy Schaeffer, attended Tuesday's hearing.
"It's difficult because every time a hearing comes up, you have to reprogram yourself and get yourself back into the mental mode to hear a lot of the ... bad things that have happened," Peggy Schaeffer told the media. "In order to get this resolved, we need to do this."
Rhines' attorney, Neil Fulton, said if Rhines' petition is granted, the decision could throw out his death sentence. The Schaeffers said they dreaded that event.
"A resentencing trial is something that we do not want to happen," Peggy Schaeffer said.