Charles Rhines files appeal to U.S. Supreme Court

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A South Dakota prison inmate is taking things to the U.S. Supreme Court with plans to appeal a judge's refusal to delay his execution.

(MGN/SD Department of Corrections)

Charles Rhines is scheduled to be executed via lethal injection on Nov. 4. Rhines was convicted of killing a 22-year-old doughnut shop employee who interrupted him during a burglary in 1992.

Rhines filed two separate appeals Friday, one will be taken by the South Dakota Supreme Court, the other by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The first appeal argues that the pentobarbital to be used in his execution doesn't meet the "ultra-short-acting" standard for lethal injection drugs in effect at the time of his conviction. A circuit judge on Thursday rejected his argument, saying the drug works as fast or faster as other drugs cited by Rhines when used in lethal doses.

"The court in Minnehaha County thought that Mr. Rhines should have brought those issues up previously," Attorney Scott Swier said.

The second appeal is set to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"That appeal asks the Supreme Court to halt his execution, and he's asking that a psychiatric and neurological expert be allowed to testify as to Mr. Rhines' cognitive and psychiatric impairment," Swier said.

Swier says the appeal process is a typical tactic used among capital murder cases.

"I think the appealing of the type of drug is seen throughout the country whenever you have an execution case. The fact that Mr. Rhines is appealing the manner and the drugs that would be used in his execution is not something that is out of the ordinary throughout the country," Swier said.

While the two appeals are separate, either one has the potential to stop execution proceedings, and there is not a timetable as to how long the process will take.

"The courts could dispose of Mr. Rhines' issues quickly, they could make a ruling in his favor quickly, really we're kind of on their timeline to see what they're going to decide," Swier said.