Thursday, November 11, 2004

Matthew Shepard Hate Crime Revisited

Shepard, a 21-year-old, met Aaron James McKinney and Russel Arthur Henderson in a bar. After he confided to them that he was gay, they deceived him into leaving with them in their car. He was robbed, brutally beaten, tied to a fence and left to die. McKinney and Henderson also found out his address, intending to burglarize his home. Shepard was discovered 18 hours later, alive and unconscious.

Shepard's injuries were a fracture from the back of his head to the front of his right ear. He also had catastrophic brain stem damage, which affected the body's ability to regulate heartbeat, body temperature, and other vital signs. There were also about 12 small lacerations around the head, face and neck. The injuries were deemed too severe to operate. Shepard never regained consciousness and remained on full life support. He died at 12:53 a.m. on October 12 at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The blood on Shepard's face had been partially washed away by tears, indicating that he had been conscious, for some time, after the beating. He had been pistol-whipped 18 times with a .357-caliber Magnum.

Police apprehended McKinney and Henderson shortly thereafter, finding the bloody gun as well as the victim's shoes and credit card in their truck. The two murderers had attempted to get alibis from their girlfriends.
ABC news plans to reinvestigate the kidnap, torture, and death of Matthew Shepard. After interviews with the two men serving double life sentences, reporters have come to the possible conclusion that it wasn't a gay-bashing murder, but a mugging that went wrong.
But in their first interviews since they were convicted, McKinney and Henderson claim anti-gay bias had nothing to do with the crime.

In a press release promoting the show, ABC promised "surprising revelations, including Laramie's underground world of methamphetamine use that may have contributed to the crime and whether or not Shepard knew his killers."
I am trying to understand why this makes a difference. Yes, I know he was gay and lived the gay lifestyle, but why drag his family and friends through this again? Just to try and prove it wasn't a hate crime? These guys went into a gay bar, pretended to be gay, lured him out, kidnapped him, beat him repeatedly, and left him to die while tied to a fence. If they just wanted to rob somebody, why choose a gay bar? Why did they use the "gay panic defense" if it had nothing to do with his homosexuality? And they were driven to "temporary insanity" because he made sexual advances? They are the ones that went into the bar!

ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider says, "Exploring and re-examining the facts around that murder in a very thoughtful and in-depth way is the very essence of responsible journalism." Oh. So that makes it okay to make them re-live the trauma they experienced in six years ago. Of course it's not to boost ratings.


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