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SCOTUS Denies Gay Murderer's Bias Petition:  The U.S. Supreme Court declined review of a South Dakota murderer's claim that his death sentence is invalid because jurors were biased against gays.  Ariane de Vogue of CNN reports that Charles Rhines admitted killing 22-year old Donnivan Schaeffer in 1992 while robbing the Rapid City donut shop where Schaeffer worked.  Following his conviction, the jury learned that Rhines was gay, which his attorneys argued swayed the jury to sentence him to death.  While most states consider jury deliberations to be private, in its 2017 Pena-Rodriquez v. Colorado ruling, the Supreme Court announced an exception for alleged racial bias.  Rhines asked that the exception also include gay bias.  South Dakota argued that the lower courts were correct in finding that the claim was proceduraly barred because it could have been raised years earlier.  The brutality of the murder seems sufficient to justify the death sentence.  As the South Dakota Supreme Court noted on direct appeal,  Rhines was stealing money from the donut shop office when he heard Schaeffer come in the front door.  Rhines pulled a knife and waited behind the office door until Schaeffer entered, then stabbed him in the stomach.  Schaeffer fell to the floor and began screaming while Rhines stabbed him again in the back, piercing his lung.  As Schaeffer begged for his life, Rhines walked him into a storage room, sat him on a pallet and forced his head between his knees.  Rhines then stabbed Schaeffer in the back of the neck, severing his brain stem.  According to Rhines confession, when Schaeffer continued to shake, he tied his hands behind his back.  The forensic pathologist testified that Schaeffer was probably already dead and the shaking was involuntary.     

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