A South Dakota prison inmate who
claimed anti-gay juror bias was executed on Monday after the Supreme
Court denied a last-minute appeal.
Charles Rhines was 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 Rhines burglarizing a doughnut shop in Rapid City,
“I am hopeful that this day is an
opportunity for the family to move forward and now, that this phase
is over, they can continue to heal,” South Dakota Attorney General
Jason R. Ravnsborg said in a statement.
Ravnsborg said that Rhines died by
Rhines' last words were to the parents
of his victim.
“Ed and Peggy Schaeffer, I forgive
you for your anger and hatred towards me,” he
reportedly said. “I pray to God that he forgives you for your
anger and hatred towards me.”
Rhines had argued that he was sentenced
to death rather than life in prison because he's gay.
Rhines' lawyers argued that some of the
jurors in his case believed that he should not be sentenced to life
in prison because as a gay man he would enjoy serving in a men's
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
LGBT legal group Lambda Legal said in a
statement that it was troubled that the Supreme Court refused to take
a look at Rhines' claims that the jury pool was biased.
“If our legal system allows antigay
bias in jury deliberations, the integrity of our entire court system
is undermined,” Lambda Legal's Ethan Rice said in a statement. “The
death penalty is an irreversible and harsh misuse of government
power. When it is applied in a biased manner, courts should take
every possible opportunity to correct that wrong. In this case, no
court has ever reviewed the evidence of antigay bias that occurred
during jury deliberations in Mr. Rhines's sentencing.”