A South Dakota death row inmate told the family members of his murder victim that he forgives them before dying by lethal injection Monday.
Charles Rhines, who was previously convicted in the stabbing death of 22-year-old Donnivan Schaeffer at a donut shop in 1992, was executed Monday, S.C. Attorney General Jason Ravnborg's office confirmed.
Just before he died, Rhines made an unexpected final statement to the victim's parents, Ed and Peggy Schaeffer, admitting he harbored no resentment toward the couple, whose young son he brutally killed.
"I forgive you for your anger and hatred towards me," he told them as he lay strapped to a table at the South Dakota State Penitentiary, the Rapid City Journal reports. "I pray to God that he forgives you for your anger and hatred towards me."
Following Rhines's execution, A.G. Ravnborg mourned the death of Schaeffer, who he remembered as an "intelligent" man and award-winning archer who love fishing and hunting and was set to graduate Western Dakota Tech before his untimely death.
"Words cannot express the sorrow I feel for the fact that Donnivan was killed, but I am glad we were finally able to get justice for him today," Ravnborg added.
Schaeffer, who would have turned 50 this year, was engaged to be married to a woman named Sheila Jackson at the time he was killed 27 years ago.
On Monday, Jackson said Schaeffer was a supporter of the death penalty who believed in "an eye for an eye" punishment system and would have approved of Rhines's sentence.
"This closes the books on Rhines, but we will forever feel the pain and the emotions that Rhines has caused us," Jackson said.
Peggy Schaeffer remembered her son as a boy who "loved his family, fiancé and friends," adding that while Monday's execution was "marked with sadness and grief," it also brought about "relief and justice" for her and her family.
"He was a great person and will be truly missed," she added of her son.