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Attorney General Marty Jackley

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, October 25, 2019

PIERRE, S.D.Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg announced that, for the second time today, Charles Russell Rhines has lost an appeal.  The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed Charles Russell Rhines’ appeal to meet with mental health experts for the purposes of preparing a clemency application.  This follows today’s earlier announcement of the South Dakota Supreme Court denying Rhines’ motion to stay the execution and affirming the dismissal of his challenge to the written policies of the South Dakota Department of Corrections.


In January of 1993, a Pennington County Jury convicted and sentenced Rhines to death for the murder of Donnivan Schaeffer committed during the 1992 burglary of a Rapid City donut shop.  The evidence at trial included Rhines’ confession to the murder.    The South Dakota Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court affirmed Rhines’ conviction in 1996 and again in 2002. Thereafter, he filed for habeas corpus relief in State Circuit Court. That petition was denied. The South Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the denial of state habeas on July 18, 2013. Rhines filed for federal habeas relief on February 22, 2000, then Federal District Court denied habeas relief on February 16, 2016. 


“Once again we are pleased that we are progressing towards justice for Donnivan Schaeffer and closure for his family,” said Ravnsborg.  “This dismissal by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals further shows that Rhines has had his day in court at the state and federal levels and the hour of justice is rapidly approaching after 27 years of suffering by the Schaeffer family.” 




The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the State of South Dakota and provides legal advice to agencies, boards, and commissions of the State as well as representing the State in state and federal court.  The Office of Attorney General also handles prosecutions, felony criminal appeals, civil matters, consumer protection issues, and issues formal opinions interpreting statutes for agencies of the state.  Visit to learn more.


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CONTACT: Tim Bormann, Chief of Staff, (605) 773-3215