The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a gay death row inmate’s appeal claiming the jurors were biased against him because of his sexual orientation.
Charles Rhines was convicted of the murder of Donnivan Schaeffer during the burglary of a Rapid City doughnut shop in March 1992. Multiple jurors made comments about Rhine’s sexuality during the court proceedings.
Rhines appealed to the Supreme Court, citing its 2017 ruling that stated that evidence of racial bias in the jury room can force the judge to reconsider the verdict. In 2016 Rhine’s public defenders produced affidavits from the jurors, with one of them stating that because he was homosexual, “he shouldn’t be able to spend his life with men in prison.” Other comments included the notion that Rhine’s would enjoy prison because of his sexual orientation.
The Supreme Court has formally rejected Rhine’s appeal to overrule the initial ruling without comment. Counsel for Rhines stated that, “The jurors’ anti-gay bias deprived Mr. Rhines of his right to a fair sentencing process under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.”