The Marshall Project

Was This Man Sentenced to Death Because He’s Gay?

His defenders say yes. South Dakota says no. The Supreme Court may soon weigh in.

Before South Dakota jurors decided the fate of Charles Rhines in 1993, they sent a handwritten note to the judge. They had just found Rhines guilty of fatally stabbing 22-year-old Donnivan Schaeffer, an employee of Dig ‘Em Donuts in Rapid City, during a robbery a year earlier. But now they had some questions.

Case in Point In “Case in Point,” Andrew Cohen examines a single case or character that sheds light on the criminal justice system. An audio version of Case in Point is broadcast with The Takeaway, a public radio show from WNYC, Public Radio International, The New York Times, and WGBH-Boston Public Radio. Related Stories

If they didn’t vote for the death penalty, what would his life in prison look like? Would he be “allowed to mix with the general inmate population”? Would he be able “to create a group of followers or admirers”? Would he

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