Another Delay in Notorious Dallas Gay Dismemberment Trial
Dallas, Texas – The first-degree murder trial of Seth Winder, charged with the grisly dismemberment of openly gay Dallasite, Richard Hernandez, has been postponed for another four months, according to reports received from the Dallas Voice. Winder was finally to stand trial on January 24 for the September 2008 slaying of the gentle, well-liked Hernandez, a resident of North Dallas who worked as an Associate for Wal-mart. The Denton County District Attorney’s Office announced the delay of trial until May 23, in response to the petition of Winder’s defense attorney, Derek Adame. This postponement of the trial date puts the commencement of justice for Richard Hernandez to a full two-and-a-half years since the visceral organs of the victim were discovered in his apartment bathtub. The Voice notes that the May trial date itself is considerably in doubt at this point. The events following the arrest of Seth Winder for the murder of Hernandez are a case study in the muting of a Latino gay murder in the Southwest. The forensic details of the crime are gruesome in the extreme. Though the sensational aspects of a dismemberment seem to lend themselves to media and LGBTQ community attention, a strange pall has fallen over this story for years. Dallas-Fort Worth television and radio news are filled with regular stories of mayhem, yet this bloody, outrageous crime has received relatively little attention in local media, with the exception of coverage by the Dallas Voice. Controversy has dogged this story since its inception. Winder, arrested with blood-stained evidence in his possession, has been variously described as mentally disabled and homicidal, even by his own family. Winder’s father’s girlfriend, Karen Dilbeck, threw a spanner in the works by authoring and publishing a book-length account of the crime and a pastiche of her husband’s mental state at the time of the murder. Because of a spate of publicity that might have affected a trial, justice was postponed in the wake of the book’s publication. Psychological experts have pronounced on Winder’s capacity to understand right and wrong, and his ability to stand trial for the murder. Friends of Hernandez have repeatedly called on officials to bring the case to a speedy trial, contending that Winder knew what he was doing when he allegedly cut his victim to pieces. A&E’s The First 48 attempted to revive interest in the story, but failed. Today’s news of yet another postponement works to dampen the community awareness of the story further. Gay men who habituate the Oaklawn-Cedar Springs entertainment district where the gay community of Dallas congregates seem to have no recognition of the name of Richard Hernandez or the heinous murder that has been likened to Richard Harris’s “Hannibal the Cannibal” best-seller and major motion picture, The Silence of the Lambs. Why such little interest or knowledge of the crime exists in Dallas in 2011 is cause for major concern. This is the hallmark of a gay hate crime being covered over by community neglect and denial, especially when the victim is non-White and past the Twink stage. In the end, the LGBTQ community has the responsibility for keeping the memory of Richard Hernandez alive both so that justice may be finally rendered in this terrible case, and also for the sake of the Dallas LGBTQ community’s social identity. It is sadly no surprise that major media such as Belo Corporation’s newspaper and television station de-emphasize the plight of gay and lesbian Texans due to hate crimes. They have been doing so for generations. But the local queer community, with the happy exception of the Dallas Voice, has dropped the ball for a series of reasons community leaders would do well to understand and counteract, if the LGBTQ voices in Dallas and North Texas are ever to be taken seriously by a neglectful heterosexist majority in this city and county. Meanwhile, the justice Richard Hernandez’s friends seek is deferred. And justice deferred is justice denied.