In the United States, people suspected of a crime are promised a trial by jury. A convicted murderer in South Dakota was treated fairly during the sentencing phase according to the Unites States Supreme Court.

Charles Russell Rhines who was found guilty of murder in the slaying of 22-year old Donnivan Shaeffer which occurred in a Rapid City donut shop back in 1992 and faces the death penalty for the crime. Rhines contended in the appeal that the jury considered his homosexuality in administering the sentence which could have been perceived as juror misconduct.

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley issued a statement in a press release upholding the integrity of the jury’s role in the case.

“This office conducted a thorough and respectful investigation into Rhines’ claim of jury bias and has found no evidence to support the allegation. The Rhines jurors conducted their deliberations fully conscious of the gravity of their decision and with appropriate regard for the principal that defendants are to be punished for what they did, not who they are. The jurors consistently reported that they were moved to impose a death sentence by hearing Rhines laugh about killing Donnivan during his confession, not for any inappropriate reason.”

Rhines has one appeal pending at present. He awaits a decision on a federal habeas corpus claim from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.


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