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Gay Killer Charles Rhines Has Been Executed for 1993 Murder

Gay Killer Executed For 1993 Murder

Jurors in 1993 allegedly asserted Charles Rhines should be executed because he might enjoy prison sex during a life sentence.

A gay man who argued that a jury discriminated against him based on his sexuality has now been executed for a 1992 South Dakota murder.

Convicted killer Charles Rhines had appealed his sentence several times. Last year, he stressed juror bias in an appeal, noting testimony from some on the jury that Rhines might enjoy a life sentence in prison.

One juror wrote in a court affidavit "there was lots of discussion of homosexuality" during sentencing. "There were lots of folks who were like, 'Ew, I can't believe that.'" One juror said Rhines "shouldn't be able to spend his life with men in prison." Another said a life sentence was "sending him where he wants to go."

After Rhines's initial trial, several members of the jury came forward to say that his sexual orientation played a significant role in their deliberations. And while he was convicted, many now argue that the motivation behind his death sentence was due to his identity.

Rhines, 63, died Monday from lethal injection after the Supreme Court rejected a final appeal, according to Agence France-Presse. He was executed for killing Donnivan Schaeffer, a 22-year-old worker at a Rapid City, S.D., doughnut shop, during a robbery.

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg said he wanted to focus on the victim of the crime.

"Today I would like to remember Donnivan Schaeffer, the victim who was brutally murdered by the killer who met justice earlier," Ravnsborg said in a statement reported by the Associated Press.

"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. 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."

But Rhines's attorney, Shawn Nolan, said the execution was an injustice.

"It is very sad and profoundly unjust that the state of South Dakota today executed Charles Rhines, a gay man, without any court ever hearing the evidence of gay bias that infected the jury's decision to sentence him to death," Nolan told AFP.

"Antigay prejudice should never have any role in sentencing a man to death."

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