Civil rights groups urging court to accept appeal of gay man on death row

(KSFY) - Six civil rights organizations, including the ACLU, are now calling on the Eighth Circuit Court to hear the appeal of Charles Rhines, a gay man on death row in South Dakota.

According to a brief the organizations filed Thursday, new evidence "suggests that at least some members of the jury accepted the notion that life in prison without parole would be fun for a gay person, so much so that they felt it was necessary to impose the death penalty instead. In other words, significant evidence suggests that the jury may have sentenced Mr. Rhines to death based not on the facts of his case, but because he is gay."

Rhines was convicted of stabbing a rapid city doughnut shop employee to death in 1992.

He tried to persuade the SiouxFalls.Business U.S. Supreme Court to take an interest in his case, but the justices rejected his appeal in June.

American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, Lambda Legal, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, National Center for Lesbian Rights and National LGBT Bar Association were the other organizations involved in filing the brief.