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Attorney General Jason R. Ravnsborg

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United States Supreme Court Denies Rhines Petition on Jury Bias

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 18, 2018  
CONTACT:  Sara Rabern (605) 773-3215   

PIERRE, S.D.  –    Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today the United States Supreme Court denied an appeal by death row inmate Charles Russell Rhines alleging that he was sentenced to death because of jury bias. Rhines was convicted of the 1992 murder of 22-year-old Donnivan Schaeffer at a Rapid City donut shop.

“This office conducted a thorough and respectful investigation into Rhines’ claim of jury bias and has found no evidence to support the allegation.  The Rhines jurors conducted their deliberations fully conscious of the gravity of their decision and with appropriate regard for the principal that defendants are to be punished for what they did, not who they are,” said Jackley.  “The jurors consistently reported that they were moved to impose a death sentence by hearing Rhines laugh about killing Donnivan during his confession, not for any inappropriate reason.”

Rhines sought to overturn his sentence in a recent motion filed with the South Dakota Supreme Court.  The court denied the motion in January of this year.  Rhines appealed the denial to the United States Supreme Court.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals heard argument in Rhines’ federal habeas corpus claim in January.  A decision on that appeal is pending.