After being convicted for murder in 1993 by a South Dakota Jury, Charles Rhines was sentenced to death. However, after years of investigations and litigation it was revealed the basis for sentencing Rhines to death was his sexuality. It was uncovered that jurors had sent numerous letters to the judge presiding over the case asking things like, would he be "allowed to mix with the general population" and would he be able “to create a group of followers or admirers?” After years of litigation Rhines' case finally reached the Supreme Court, but they refused to hear Rhines' case for fear of what might happen if the legal protections for race, established under Peña-Rodriguez v. Colorado, were expanded to include sexuality as well. In lieu of the Supreme Court refusing to hear Charles Rhines' appeal to overturn his conviction due to obvious queerphobia, this petition hopes to bring more attention to his case. This isn't to dispute Charles Rhines guilt, its to dispute the reasoning that put him on death row. With clear evidence the jury sentenced Rhines to death because of his sexuality his sentence should be commuted. By allowing Rhines to sit on death row, it affirms that queerphobia in a jury's reasoning is acceptable. Serving life without parole is an adequate punishment for murder, and commuting his sentence should not be construed by any means as confusing his culpability.
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