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Inmate Uses Last Words to Forgive Victim's Family

Donnivan Schaeffer's parents say they weren't expecting an apology anyway
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 5, 2019 3:33 PM CST
In this photo from the 1990s, South Dakota death row inmate Charles Russell Rhines in Rapid City, SD.   (Rapid City Journal via AP)
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(Newser) – There was no apology given nor remorse shown before Charles Rhines was put to death in South Dakota Monday night for murdering Donnivan Schaeffer in 1992—but with his last words, Rhines did "forgive" Schaeffer's family, the Rapid City Journal reports. "Ed and Peggy Schaeffer, I forgive you for your anger and hatred towards me. I pray to God that he forgives you for your anger and hatred towards me," Rhines said to Schaeffer's parents as he was strapped down awaiting the injection of execution drugs. "I almost had to laugh," Peggy said of her reaction upon hearing Rhines' words. "He forgave us. Isn't that sweet?" she added, per the Argus Leader. But, she says, she and her husband never hated Rhines; they just hated what he did.

Rhines was burglarizing a doughnut shop the night Schaeffer, his 22-year-old former coworker, walked in and interrupted him. Rhines stabbed him twice, then delivered the fatal blow to the back of his head. Rhines, who was not arrested for months, ultimately confessed to police and was convicted of premeditated first-degree murder, but a series of appeals and lawsuits drew out the case. On the day of his execution, the Supreme Court declined to hear his legal challenges. Schaeffer's former fiancee and other family members attended the execution along with his parents; she said she usually went with Schaeffer to pick up supplies at night from the doughnut store, but stayed home that night due to bad weather. (Read more death penalty stories.)

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