An American man convicted of murder has been given the death sentence after the jury decided he would enjoy prison because he is gay. Charles Rhines was convicted in the stabbing death of a doughnut shop worker. Three jurors have since come forward to admit there was a lot of prejudice on the panel with one saying: ‘If he’s gay, we’d be sending him where he wants to go.’
Yesterday the Supreme Court rejected an appeal against the death penalty meaning Rhines still faces execution. The decision was greeted with horror by LGBT+ campaigners. Lawyer Ria Tobacco Mar said: ‘The court’s silence sent a deeply troubling message about the value placed on the lives of LGBT people.’ Rhines bound and stabbed Donnivan Schaeffer while robbing the doughnut shop in South Dakota in 1992. The following year, he was convicted of murder and the court heard the jury were fully aware he was gay.
Rhines appealed against his sentence, citing a ruling last year that said evidence of racial bias in the jury room allows a judge to consider setting aside a verdict. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that it will not stop the execution despite concerns about the role his sexuality played in the sentence.