Rhines to become 20th person executed in South Dakota

Published: Oct. 30, 2019 at 9:56 AM CDT
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An upcoming execution in South Dakota would be the 20th death penalty carried out in the state's history.

On Oct. 25, the South Dakota Supreme Court denied murderer Charles Russell Rhines' bid to stop his execution.

He was found guilty in the brutal murder of 22-year-old Donnivan Schaeffer during a burglary at a Rapid City doughnut shop in March 1992. After a series of appeals failed to sway judges, Rhines' execution is now scheduled for sometime next week.

Rhines will join a short list of 19 other convicted criminals to be executed by the State of South Dakota.

KOTA-TV reports the use of the death penalty starts with the storied execution of Jack McCall, who was hanged in 1877 for killing Wild Bill Hickok. Three others were put death before official statehood. Then another 10 were hanged before the state outlawed the death penalty in 1915. However, it was reinstated in 1939.

George Sitts was the first and only person to be executed via electric chair in 1947.

From 1977 to 1979 the state was barred from executions by United States Supreme Court ruling in the Furman v. Georgia.

Since then, lethal injection has been the standard - ending the lives of four people since 2007 - Elijah Page, Eric Robert, Donald Moeller, and Rodney Berget.

One man who was executed was posthumously found not guilty. Thomas Egan was executed in 1882 for the death of his wife. His stepdaughter later confessed to the crime.

Lethal injection was at the center of Rhine's latest failed appeal. He objected to the pentobarbital chemical to be used for his death. It's the same drug used to euthanize pets - slowing the heart and nervous system until they stop altogether. It's been used in more than 140 executions around the country since 2010.

The South Dakota Supreme Court upheld the use of pentobarbital for Rhines' execution.

Along with Rhines, Briley Piper is the only other person currently on death row. Rhines is set to face the death chamber some time between November 3 and 9.

Below is a list of all 20 people executed by the state, according to state records:

Jack McCall was hanged at Yankton March 1, 1877 for shooting Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood

Thomas Egan was hanged at Sioux Falls July 13, 1882 for the murder of his wife. Years later, his stepdaughter admitted to committing the crime while on her deathbed.

Brave Bear was hanged at Yankton November 15, 1882 for the murder of a pioneer settler in Sully County in 1879.

James Gilmore was hanged at Deadwood December 15, 1882 for the killing of a man on the old Fort Pierre-Deadwood trail.

James Leehman was hanged on February 19, 1892 for the murder of James H. Burns.

Nathaniel Thompson was hanged at DeSmet October 1893 for killing his wife's friend.

Jay Hicks was hanged at Sturgis December 1893 for killing and robbing a Meade County rancher.

Chief Two Sticks was hanged at Deadwood December 28, 1894 for instigating the slaying of four cowboys.

Charles Brown was hanged at Deadwood July 14, 1897 for killing and robbing a Deadwood woman.

Ernest Loveswar was hanged at Sturgis September 19, 1902 for the murder of two homesteaders.

Allen Walking Shield was hanged October 21, 1902 in Sioux Falls for the murder of a Native American woman named Ghost-Faced Bear.

George Bear was hanged at Sioux Falls December 5, 1902 for murder.

Emil Victor was hanged at Aberdeen November 16, 1909 for the murder of three people.

Joe Rickman was hanged in Perkins County in 1913 for the murder of a woman and her daughter.

George Sitts was electrocuted at Sioux Falls on April 8, 1947 for the January 24, 1946 murders of state criminal agent Thomas Matthews and Butte County Sheriff Dave Malcolm near Spearfish.

Elijah Page was executed by lethal injection in Sioux Falls on July 11, 2007 for the murder of Chester Allan Poage.

Eric Robert was executed by lethal injection in Sioux Falls on October 15, 2012 for the murder of Senior Correctional Officer Ron Johnson.

Donald Moeller was executed by lethal injection in Sioux Falls on October 30, 2012 for the murder of Becky O'Connell.

Rodney Berget was executed by lethal injection in Sioux Falls on October 29, 2018 for the murder of Senior Correctional Officer Ron Johnson.