In an amicus brief filed Thursday, six civil rights organizations argue that a gay man may have been sentenced to death rather than life in prison because of his sexual orientation.

In their brief, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of South Dakota, Lambda Legal, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and National LGBT Bar Association urge the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the appeal of Charles Rhines, a gay man on death row in South Dakota for the 1992 murder of an employee in the course of a commercial burglary. Rhines stabbed the 22-year-old employee to death after he caught him burglarizing a doughnut shop in Rapid City.

“Plaintiff-Appellant Charles Russell Rhines has offered evidence that some of the jurors who voted to impose the death penalty on him in 1993 may have done so based on the pernicious stereotype that the alternative – a life sentence served in a men's prison – was something he would enjoy as a gay man,” the groups wrote in their appeal.

The jury sent a note to the judge asking whether, if sentenced to life without parole, Rhines would “be allowed to mix with the general inmate population,” be able to “brag about his crime to other inmates, especially new and/or young men,” enjoy “conjugal visits,” and whether he would “have a cellmate.”

The new evidence is statements made by jurors. One juror said that the jury “knew that [Rhines] was a homosexual and thought that he shouldn't be able to spend his life with men in prison.” Another juror said that there was “lots of discussion of homosexuality” during deliberations. A third juror recalled a juror saying that prison is “where [Rhines] wants to go.”

“Mr. Rhines’s case represents one of the most extreme forms anti-LGBT bias can take. Evidence suggests that he has been on death row for the past 25 years because he is a gay man,” Ethan Rice of Lambda Legal said in a press release. “The constitutional right to a fair trial must include the right to establish whether a verdict or sentence was imposed due to jury bias.”

“This Court should grant Mr. Rhines's application for a certificate of appealability to afford him the opportunity to establish whether prejudice against him because he is gay factored into the jury's decision to sentence him to death,” the groups wrote.