Court denies death penalty appeal of gay prisoner

ST. LOUIS — A divided three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to hear the appeal of Charles Rhines, a gay man on death row in South Dakota, on Friday. The appeal argued that Rhines should be allowed to present new evidence showing that antigay bias may have motivated the jury to sentence him to death. Six organizations, ncluding the American Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, Lambda Legal, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and National LGBT Bar Association, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in August following the discovery of comments from jurors suggesting that sentencing Rhines to life in prison with other men would be “sending him where he wants to go,” according to a press release from the orgnizations. The brief provided information about the long and painful history of discrimination against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in the United States and asked the court to issues a certificate of appealability to Rhines to allow him to present evidence of juror bias.