SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A convicted killer who fatally stabbed a former co-worker during a 1992 burglary used his last words Monday to speak directly to the parents of his victim, saying he forgave them “for your anger and hatred towards me.” But the victim’s parents refused to focus on the man who killed their son, instead centering their attention on the young man they treasured and whom they called a blessing.
Charles Rhines was executed by lethal injection at 7:39 p.m., after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to halt the execution despite three late appeals.
“Ed and Peggy Schaeffer, I forgive you for your anger and hatred toward me,” Rhines said, before thanking his defense team. “I pray to God that he forgives you for your anger and hatred toward me. Thanks to my team. I love you all, goodbye. Let’s go. That’s all I have to say. Goodbye.”
Rhines, 63, ambushed 22-year-old Donnivan Schaefer in 1992 when Schaefer surprised him in the midst of burglarizing a Rapid City doughnut shop where Schaeffer worked. Rhines had been fired a few weeks earlier; investigators and prosecutors said he brushed off Schaeffer’s pleas for mercy.
The Schaeffers made clear they didn’t want to talk about Rhines. Patty Schaeffer appeared before reporters holding a photo of her two sons, including Donnivan, as children and then displayed a graduation photo of him.
“We were so blessed to have this young man in our family and in our life,” she said. “Today is the day that we talk about Donnivan, the guy who loved his family, his fiancé, and his friends.”
When asked about Rhines’ final words addressing them, Peggy Schaeffer said that she has no anger towards Rhines and has already forgiven him. “If I started hating, I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t be who I am.”
Media witnesses to the execution said Rhines appeared calm, and it took only about a minute for the pentobarbital used by the state to take effect They said when he finished speaking, he closed his eyes, then blinked, breathed heavily, rolled his head to the right and passed out. He was pronounced dead about five minutes later.