Convicted Killer Who Claimed Jurors Were Biased Against Him for Being Gay is Executed in South Dakota

A convicted killer who claimed jurors in his murder trial were biased against him for being gay has been executed in South Dakota.

Charles Russell Rhines, 63, was given the lethal injection at approximately 7.35 p.m. at the state prison in Sioux Falls on Monday, South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg said, after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-minute appeal.

The execution came almost three decades after he stabbed 22-year-old Donnivan Schaeffer to death in 1992.

Rhines' attorney Shawn Nolan said it was "very sad and profoundly unjust" that Rhines was executed before a court could hear evidence of the alleged gay bias that Rhines claims influenced the jury's decision in sentencing him to die, the Associated Press reported.

According to Reuters, rights groups unsuccessfully urged a U.S. appeals court last year to allow Rhines to argue that anti-gay bias had prompted the jury to hand him the death sentence. The groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, said some jurors had expressed anti-gay sentiments, including one who said Rhines "shouldn't be able to spend his life with men in prison."

That claim was rejected as well as arguments against the use of pentobarbital for not being as fast-acting a drug as he was entitled to.

However, media witnesses at the execution reported it took only a minute for the drug to take effect and Rhines was pronounced dead about five minutes after he was injected, the Associated Press reported.

He used his last words to speak directly to Schaeffer's parents, telling them that he forgave them for "your anger and hatred towards me."

"Ed and Peggy Schaeffer, I forgive you for your anger and hatred toward me," Rhines said, according to the Associated Press.

"I pray to God that he forgives you for your anger and hatred toward me. Thanks to my team. I love you all, goodbye. Let's go. That's all I have to say. Goodbye."

Rhines was convicted in 1993 of murdering Schaeffer at a donut shop in Rapid City after the young man interrupted him during a burglary. Rhines broke in on March 8, 1992, about a month after he was fired from the store.

Following the execution, Peggy Schaeffer told reporters that she has no anger towards Rhines and has already forgiven him.

"If I started hating, I wouldn't be here, I wouldn't be who I am," she said, according to the Associated Press.

In his statement, Ravnsborg described Schaeffer as "funny, kind and a hard worker" with a bright future ahead of him when he was killed.

He said: "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."

lethal injection stock photo
Stock photo: Charles Rhines was executed by lethal injection at the state prison in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on Monday. Getty
Convicted Killer Who Claimed Jurors Were Biased Against Him for Being Gay is Executed in South Dakota | U.S.