Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Sean Kennedy: Travesty of Justice Could Have Come Out Differently If Shepard Act Had Been In Place


Sean & Blue tie

Sean William Kennedy, 20

Washington, DC – Elke Kennedy and her husband, James Parker, were invited by the Human Rights Campaign to represent their slain gay son, Sean William Kennedy, at the ceremonies marking the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Law at the White House.  In a statement issued on Sean’s Last Wish, web site for the foundation established following the brutal murder of their son, the Greenville, South Carolina couple issued this statement:  “Elke and Jim are honored to represent the LGBT community in memory of their son Sean Kennedy, who was the victim of a hate crime on May 16, 2007 in Greenville, SC. Sean’s Last Wish foundation considers this a privilege to be the voice and represent the LGBT community as we continue to fight against hatred, bullying, violence and religious bigotry.”  In one of the most egregious abuses of justice in recent years, Sean Kennedy’s murderer, Stephen Moller, was indicted only for involuntary manslaughter and sentenced on June 11 2008 to a 5 year sentence suspended to three years, and received credit for the 199 days he served in county lock-up. He was supposed to stay in prison till September 7, 2009, but received 2 month credit for good behaviour by getting his GED while in prison.  The court was sympathetic to Moller because he had fathered a child who was born while he was serving his shortened sentence, and released him a week earlier than his abridged sentence even called for.  Had there been a Matthew Shepard Act on the books at the time of the Moller trial, federal officials could have intervened, investigated the murder as the anti-LGBT hate crime it was, and tried the defendant under a hate crime charge of murder.  South Carolina, however, never has enacted an anti-LGBT hate crimes prevention law, which coupled with local anti-gay attitudes, caused the breach of justice in the Sean Kennedy case.  Now, thanks to the lobbying of bereaved families like Sean’s, hate crimes against gay people have a fighting chance of being tried and punished in their true context.

October 29, 2009 - Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, South Carolina, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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