Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Houston Gay Teen Beaten with Metal Pipe Appealed for Help, But in Vain

Houston, TX – Jayron Martin, a 16-year-old freshman at Langham Creek High School, knew that school bullies were coming for him on Thursday, November 12, but his appeals for help to principals and to his bus driver fell on deaf ears.  Hours before the beating that left him with multiple bruises and a concussion, Martin says he was tipped off that classmates intended to ambush and beat him for being gay.  According to statements he made to KHOU-TV 11 News, Martin said that he immediately went to two school principals for help.  Instead of offering him help, they told him to write out a statement, and they would call him in after reading and considering his fears.  He wrote out a statement and took it to the principals, but no help of any kind was forthcoming, and the clock was ticking toward the impending attack.  “They didn’t do anything,” said Martin. “They never called me down [to the principal’s office] or nothing.”  No school official lifted a finger to help him or stop the approaching violence.  The principals did not even inform his mother.  Martin boarded the bus for home, knowing that the gang who promised to beat him up were riding it as well.  “All they kept saying was, ‘We going to get you. We going to fight you,’ and all that and so when they started coming after me they were like, ‘You’re not going to be gay anymore.’”  Martin said that he begged his bus driver for help, but the driver ignored the gay youth’s pleas.  The attack came off campus, when Martin got off the bus.  Nine boys got off at the same stop, and chased after Martin, who ran for his life to a neighbor’s house.  “You don’t understand, I was just running for my life and nobody was like there at all. Nobody was doing anything for me,” said Martin.  The bullies caught up to him at the neighbor’s house, and a seven-minute attack with a metal pipe commenced as Martin says he screamed for help.  As a 16-year-old thrashed him repeatedly, the eight others stood around, witnessing the beating and egging it on.  “They just kept hitting me,” he said.  Finally his neighbor heard the commotion, saw what was taking place in his yard, and came at the assailants with a shotgun.  He probably saved Martin from more serious injury or death.  The youth recalled that his neighbor shouted, “Y’all need to stop! Y’all need to stop!’ And the boy wouldn’t stop and he just kept hitting me and hitting me and so he cocked his gun and that’s when he ran out [of the yard],” Martin told KHOU reporters.  Harris County law officers arrested the 16-year-old who allegedly carried out the beating and charged him with aggravated assault.  Since Martin’s attacker is a juvenile, the records of proceedings are sealed to the public and the press.  Martin and his mother are convinced that the assault was an anti-gay hate crime.  “I’m disgusted,” his mother, Lakenya Martin, said to reporters. “I’m sorry, after the fact doesn’t do it. The school district let us down. I mean, let all of us down because it could have been anyone’s kid.”  The Cy-Fair School District has begun an investigation into the attack.  The bus driver has been suspended with pay.  Officials say they are looking into the actions of an assistant principal at Langham High.  Mrs. Martin, however, is far from satisfied.  “When the child does what they’re supposed to do and the adult doesn’t, what are you supposed to say then?  How do you make him feel comfortable? How do you give him back that sense of security,” she said.  She announced her intentions to move out of the neighborhood and the school district.  Reports suggest that she is acting to sue the school and the school district in civil court.  What makes this story all the more lamentable to us at the Unfinished Lives Project is that this entire tragedy could have been prevented if school officials had only acted responsibly and humanely.  GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network, reports that a 2007 survey of 6,209 middle and high school students found that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students (86.2%) experienced harassment at school in the past year, three-fifths (60.8%) felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and about a third (32.7%) skipped a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe.  GLSEN research also points out that school officials routinely underestimate the danger posed to LGBT students by bullying in their schools. Jayron Martin will be remembered at at rally and candlelight vigil planned for Sunday, November 22, 6:15 pm in the heart of the LGBTQ neighborhood in Dallas.

November 19, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, Bullying in schools, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

African American Gay Teen Slaughtered in Baltimore

Baltimore, MD – A 15-year-old African American sophomore who was open to his classmates about his sexual orientation was found Tuesday, November 10 stuffed in a closet in his aunt’s house, raped, gagged with a pillowcase, and stabbed multiple times in the head and throat.  The Baltimore Sun reports that Dante Parrish, 35, a convicted felon who knew Jason Mattison, Jr. and his family, was arrested on November 12 at a convenience store, and charged with first-degree murder.  After release from prison, Parrish roomed in Mattison’s aunt’s home on Llewellyn Avenue, where Jason was also living at the time.  Reports speculate that Parrish had forced a sexual relationship on the teenager.  A spokesman from the Baltimore Police Department said that Parrish, who is being held in custody without bond, confessed to the murder.  Jason was a joyous non-conformist, known at West Baltimore’s Vivian T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy where he attended high school as a witty, chatty young gay man who lived out his sexual orientation without apology.  When other boys harassed him for his tight jeans and feminine-looking sweaters, he always seemed to have a quick answer, and would walk away from the encounter smiling.  He had planned to become a pediatrician according to his teachers, who believed that no matter how cheery he appeared to be, the slurs hurled at him still hurt.  When he came out to his family, there was some friction, but gradually they accepted him, according to his paternal grandmother, Mrs. Wanda Williams.  Williams was among the earliest members of his family to whom he came out, and she admitted to reporters that his revelations caught her off-guard.  She was worried about her grandson.  “I accepted his sexual preferences,” she said. “But I told him, ‘You’re young and don’t understand life.’ I told him, ‘Plenty of young women would love to be with you.’ He said he likes boys. Young people don’t like to listen to adults, but I told him I’m not going to push him away.”  Jason’s murder has devastated his grandmother.  “I haven’t cried so much this entire life,” Williams said to The Sun. “My grandson hollering for help and there is nobody there to help him.”  Many unanswered questions remain for family, classmates and friends.  Why would his relatives allow Parrish to stay in the same house as Jason, given Parrish’s violent past?  Were the reports of a sexual relationship with Parrish true, or fabricated by a man facing the worst criminal charges of his life?  What were the circumstances that led up to one of the most gruesome anti-gay murders in the history of Baltimore?  Jason’s funeral was held this Wednesday at Unity United Methodist Church.  His cousin, Laquanna Couplin, who was also living in the house on Llewellyn where Jason was killed, told reporters, “He was a terrific boy, and we miss him very much.  We’re hoping that justice is served and that the person who is responsible for this goes to prison and doesn’t get out.”  She spoke lovingly of her young cousin, “He was a sweet young man. He wasn’t afraid of who he was. He had a life ahead of him. I just wish he could’ve had a chance to live it.”  A candlelight vigil is planned Sunday, November 22 in Dallas, Texas to call for justice for Jason.

November 19, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bullying in schools, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Maryland, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Remembrances, Slurs and epithets, stabbings, Strangulation, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Demands for Justice in Slaying of Gay Teen in Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico – The Associated Press reports this evening that in response to mounting pressure from local LGBT activists and the large and vocal Puerto Rican communities in New York and Chicago, the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office is seriously considering entering the effort to investigate and prosecute Jorge Steven López Mercado’s alleged killer as a hate crime under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act, signed into law last month by President Barack Obama.  Two members of Congress from New York of Puerto Rican descent, U.S. Representative José E. Serrano and U.S. Representative Nydia Velasquez, have both added their influence to bring the U.S. Justice Department into the case.  Puerto Rican police officials have signaled their willingness to proceed with the investigation as a possible anti-LGBT hate crime, as well.  A prosecutor who interviewed Juan Antonio Martínez Matos, the alleged murderer, said that he confessed to have stabbed 19-year-old López Mercado after he discovered that he had solicited sex from a male and not a female.  The prosecutor, José Bermudez Santos, remarked to a local newspaper that  Matos said he met his victim Thursday night in a section known for prostitution.  The confessed killer went on to say that López Mercado was wearing a dress at the time.  “He [Matos] has a deep-seated rage,” Santos went on to say.  Matos was charged on Wednesday with first-degree murder and weapons violations, and then jailed with a $4 million bond.  Should he be convicted, he would likely face life in prison without hope of parole.  Puerto Rican LGBT advocates have been quick to bring the focus of media back to the heinous nature of the crime, rather than the alleged descriptions of the victim.  They insist that no one lose sight of the fact that a horrific crime has been committed against a well-known member of their community, a young person who volunteered for HIV prevention and for gay rights.  Local LGBT rights activist, Pedro Julio Serrano, who represents the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Puerto Rico, said that there had been more than 10 anti-LGBT murders on the island in the last seven years that should have been investigated as hate crimes.  While there is a statute on the books concerning hate crimes already, enacted into law in 2002, sexual orientation has never been permitted as a protected category.  Should the murder of López Mercado be prosecuted as a bias-related crime, it will be a first in Puerto Rican history.  “The people of Puerto Rico are very inclusive and accepting of differences,” Serrano remarked to the AP. “I think these kinds of crimes show the ugly side of homophobia, but it’s a minority of people that are willing to be so violent in expressing their prejudice.”  LGBT historians note that Puerto Rico has a grim heritage of homophobic and transphobic crimes.  According to the Enquirer-Herald, the island was terrorized in the 1980’s by serial killer Angel Colón Maldonado, called “The Angel of the Bachelors,” for slaying 27 gay men before his capture.  Maldonado is serving life in prison.  These crimes notwithstanding, Puerto Rico also has shown itself to be more inclusive and welcoming of LGBT people than some other Caribbean islands, like Jamaica, where queer folk are still deeply closeted.  Serrano announced a protest at the Capitol in San Juan on Thursday.  Rallies and memorial gatherings are planned on the mainland in Dallas, Chicago and New York this weekend.

November 19, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Decapitation and dismemberment, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Media Issues, multiple homicide, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, Puerto Rico, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, Torture and Mutilation, trans-panic defense, transgender persons, transphobia, U.S. House of Representatives | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Demands for Justice in Slaying of Gay Teen in Puerto Rico

NYC Memorial for Jorge Steven López Mercado – Sunday, November 22 at the Christopher Street Piers (Tentative), 7 – 9 p.m. Further Information: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=179256219695

Jorge Steven López Mercado, 19

November 18, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Decapitation and dismemberment, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, New York, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on NYC Memorial for Jorge Steven López Mercado – Sunday, November 22 at the Christopher Street Piers (Tentative), 7 – 9 p.m. Further Information: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=179256219695

Suspect Arrested in Puerto Rican Gay Teen Hate Murder Case

Jorge Steven López Mercado

San Juan, Puerto Rico – The Associated Press is reporting that the arrested suspect in Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado’s grisly murder is claiming the infamous “gay panic” defense to besmirch the character of the victim, and appeal to anti-gay machismo.  Regional Police Director Hector Agosto said, “This was a ruthless crime.  Whoever did this just wanted to make the person disappear.”  Gay rights advocates in the Caribbean United States Territory have carried out a number of memorial events for young Lopez Mercado, as well as protests in the capital, San Juan demanding that police investigate the murder as a bias-related hate crime.  “They are hurt and they are indignant,” gay activist Pedro Julio Serrano said to reporters. “They are calling for justice.”  Local island media are reporting that Juan Antonio Martínez Matos, 26, a father of four, was arrested by authorities for the murder.  Matos is alleging that he was in search of a woman for sex, and when he found out that Lopez Mercado was a gay youth instead of a female, he panicked.  Whether he is speaking under the direction of an attorney is not known at this time, but in any event, the suspect has appardently made the calculation that enough members of the public will buy his account that he will be more likely to receive a lighter sentence, if convicted.  On the mainland, the gay or trans-panic defense has been tried on many occasions in an attempt to cast enough aspersions on the character of the LGBT victim that public opinion will soften toward the defendant.  In recent court cases, such as the trial of Allen Ray Andrade, the murderer of trans Latina Angie Zapata in Greeley, Colorado, the panic defense has fallen flat.  Andrade, who made a similar claim, left both judge and jury unconvinced, and received life in prison without hope of parole.  According to Box Turtle Bulletin, Matos also claimed that Lopez Mercado demanded money from him. Police investigators have allegedly discovered a wig, a burned mattress, burned PVC pipe, and a knife at the suspect’s apartment.  Accounts also say that police found blood stains on the wall of the courtyard of the apartment.  Investigator José J. Bermúdez said to the press that he has no doubt that López’s murder can be prosecuted as a hate crime.  Since the public can easily be prejudiced by media accounts that are both uncritical of a suspect’s allegations about his victim, and unverified as to what actually may (or may not) have been found at a crime scene, the Unfinished Lives Project will pass these details along as currently unsubstantiated reports until properly and fully vetted.  Officials in Puerto Rico are now saying that the mutilated, beheaded and partially burned body of Lopez Mercado was discovered on Friday, November 13 in a wooded area near Cayey, only a few miles from his home in Caguas.  Both the LGBT community in Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican population of New York City have expressed grave concern about the most savage murder of a gay person in Puerto Rico’s history.

November 18, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Colorado, Decapitation and dismemberment, gay men, gay panic defense, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Media Issues, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Protests and Demonstrations, Puerto Rico, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, trans-panic defense, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gay Latino Teen Beheaded, Dismembered, and Burned

Caguas, Puerto Rico – Reports just making the wires confirm that Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, a gay teenager from Puerto Rico, was found brutally murdered in an anti-gay hate crime on November 14.  According to a CNNi item, the dismembered body of the 18-year-old was found on the side of a road in Cayey, partially burned and decapitated.  Mercado’s arms and legs were severed from his torso.  Christopher Pagan, who made the initial report to CNNi, related that Mercado was “was a very well known person in the gay community of Puerto Rico, and very loved.”  Associated Content reports that the police investigator in charge of the case made a televised statement to the press to the effect that “people [like young Mercado]  who lead this type of lifestyle need to be aware that this will happen.”  The response in the Puerto Rican LGBT community has been swift and intense.  Pressure is being brought to bear upon authorities to remove the investigator on the grounds that his prejudice hampers the pursuit of justice in the case of an anti-LGBT hate crime murder such as this.  The blog Towelroad quotes gay Puerto Rican activist Pedro Julio Serrano, “It is inconceivable that the investigating officer suggests that the victim deserved his fate, like a woman deserves rape for wearing a short skirt. We demand condemnation of this investigator and demand that Superintendente Figueroa Sancha replace him with someone capable of investigating this case without prejudice.”   Today, November 17, a 28-year-old suspect has been arrested in conjunction with the Mercado investigation, according to Primiera Hora.  Intensive interviews with Mercado’s friends pointed to the suspect, alleging that he had offered Mercado money in exchange for sex.  In further developments today, the police superintendent has dismissed allegations of homophobia against the police investigator who expressed his negative opinion about members of the gay community.  Serrano has issued this statement in response to the arrest and the innuendo swirling around this case: “Even when everyone is innocent until proven guilty, it is hopeful that they have arrested a suspect. We’re grateful for the Police work that has acted promptly and we trust that the investigation digs into the hate crime angle and if it is proven that it was indeed bias-related, that the criminal is processed to the full extent of the law….We urge the media and the authorities not to judge the victim, but the criminal who committed this horrendous crime. Even if there are particular circumstances in which this crime was committed, we have to keep the attention where it deserves to be: a young gay man was brutally murdered by someone who did not have any compassion or respect for the dignity of a human life.”  Associated Content evaluates the situation for LGBT persons and the memory of young Mercado: “Puerto Rico has a conservative religious climate, being strongly influenced by Roman Catholicism and socially conservative Protestantism. Puerto Rico is also a United States territory. As a result the brutal murder of George Steven Lopez Mercado is a hate crime under the hate crime legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama of the United States. To date no murder has yet been classified as a hate crime in Puerto Rico. Homosexuality in Puerto Rico is not illegal and George Steven Lopez Mercado deserves as much protection under the law as any other Puerto Rican citizen.”  The FBI is monitoring the situation, and has expressed willingness to assist in the investigation.

November 17, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Decapitation and dismemberment, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Puerto Rico, religious intolerance, Slurs and epithets, Torture and Mutilation, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Latino Teen Beheaded, Dismembered, and Burned

Arrest Made in Hallowe’en Night Hate Crime Attack

Robert Bellamy, Jr.Lakeview, NY – One man has been apprehended, and two more are still at large in a Hallowe’en night attack on two men presumed to be gay.  Robert Bellamy, Jr., 23, (pictured at the left) was arrested by Nassau County law enforcement officers on November 5 in connection with the brutal harassment, stomping and kicking assault that sent two men to Mercy Hospital in the dead of the night.  Bellamy has been charged with robbery as a hate crime and two counts of assault.  Both victims were treated and released.  According to reporting by www.wpix.com, the two men targeted for the attack were dressed for a costume party.  One of the victims, who drew the most severe treatment, was dressed in drag.  What had started out as a Hallowe’en fun night turned threatening after the two men dropped by a convenience store after they left the party.  Three men, one of them Bellamy, allegedly hurled homophobic slurs and insults at the pair on store property.  When the costumed men left the convenience store to avoid further conflict, a car driven by a woman, loaded with the three alleged attackers, followed them.  Jumping out of the vehicle, the three assailants surrounded their victims.  Bellamy reportedly punched one of the men, calling him a “faggot” and knocking him to the ground.  The other two attackers, still at large as of this report, also hit both victims, beating them senseless.  All three then took turns kicking their downed prey repeatedly in the stomach.  As they left the scene, Bellamy allegedly rifled the pockets of the man he punched, beat and kicked on the ground, stealing $7 in cash.  The sexual orientation of the victims has not been determined.  At a press conference, Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey told WPIX reporters, “There was a perception whether real or not, that their sexual orientation may be different than the males.”  Bellamy was arraigned the following Thursday, while a manhunt is underway to locate and arrest the other two assailants.

November 14, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Beatings and battery, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Mistaken as LGBT, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Stomping and Kicking Violence | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

19 Transgender Murders Per Month in 2009 To Be Remembered at TDOR

eleventh1On November 20, 2009, the international transgender community will observe the 11th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.  The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is a memorial observance of the lives of transmen and transwomen who have been killed during the previous year due to anti-transgender hatred, violence, and prejudice.  According to the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), Rita Hester’s murder in 1998 sparked the beginning of the TDOR which has evolved into hundreds of local events and memorials throughout the nation and the world.  This year the LGBT community will mourn more than 95 murdered transgender individuals internationally according to Ethan St. Pierre, amounting to an average of 19 per month.  In 2008, there were 47 transgender murder victims remembered at TDOR.  The murder rate has spiked nearly 100%, virtually doubling in just 12 months.  A more frightening assessment issued by Liminalis, a journal “For Sex/Gender Emancipation and Resistance,”  reports that in the year-and-a-half from January 2008 until the middle of 2009, better than 200 transgender people were murdered world-wide, with the bulk of these statistics coming from North and South America.  According to this report, Brazil is the most dangerous country in the world for transpeople accounting for 59 deaths in 2008, followed by the United States of America where 16 murders of transgender folk occurred.  Accurate data are notoriously hard to establish on the numbers of transgender murders domestically and world-wide.  Reporters and researchers have meticulously combed the internet for names and accounts, but many victims remain unnamed.  Reports of trans deaths in news sources with no internet presence are routinely missed.  While the most sensational murders of transpeople remain those of transwomen, the numbers of reported slayings of transmen and queer youths who present femininely are clearly on the rise.  In addition to memorials for the slain at this year’s TDOR, major political and legal victories for the transgender community will also be highlighted.  The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act has been signed into law by President Obama, extending protections from violent crimes to transgender people in the United States for the first time.  The past year has also seen the successful conviction and sentencing of two murderers who took the lives of transgender women under state anti-hate crime statutes, one in Colorado and another in New York.  The message of these convictions to reluctant local law enforcement officials is that convictions for bias-related hate crimes against transgender people are attainable from juries throughout the country, giving the lie to the often-repeated excuse that hate crimes are difficult to impossible to prosecute successfully.  Allen Ray Andrade was put away for life for the murder of Angie Zapata in Greeley, Colorado under such a statute, as well as Dwight DeLee, who received 25 years for the murder of Lateisha Green in Syracuse, New York.

November 13, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Colorado, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Remembrances, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ryan Skipper’s Family Issues Press Release After Conviction of Son’s Killer

Pat Mulder

Pat Mulder embraces a supporter

Bartow, FL – In an email blast send to supporters of the Ryan Skipper Fund and Foundation this evening, news of the reaction of Lynn and Pat Mulder to the guilty verdict for William D. “Bill Bill” Brown went nationwide.  Brown was found guilty of first degree murder and burglary with a deadly weapon by the Polk County jury.  He had previously pled guilty to arson and evidence tampering.  In view of the gravity of the verdict, a heavy sentence, probably life in prison with no possibility of parole, is expected when Judge Hunter rules in early December.  Speaking to the press and to dozens of supporters outside the Polk County Courthouse, the Mulders said, “We would like to thank the State Attorney’s Office and especially Mr. [Cass] Castillo for consistently striving to uncover the truth and seek justice for our family and for Ryan. We want to thank the detectives of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office who worked diligently and showed compassion to our family. Thank you to the crime scene technicians whose attention to detail helped uncover the truth. And thank you to everyone else along the way who committed their time and talent to ensuring that justice was served. Lastly, we thank the jurors who have taken time from their jobs and families to fulfill an important civic duty. You paid attention to testimony that was brought before you and rendered a conclusion that serves justice and benefits society.  To the public, we want you to know that Ryan, like so many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, was a good and upstanding member of this community. We all deserve to be judged by our abilities and character instead of our differences. We are all human beings and we all deserve the right to pursue happiness, to have a job, to be parents either naturally or by adoption, to be in a committed loving relationship which is legally recognized, to serve our country in the military openly and honestly with pride. Finally we want the public to know the devastation hate crimes inflict is not only on the individual victim but their families, friends and the entire community feels the impact.  We will always cherish our memories of Ryan. We along with countless others will continue to honor Ryan by always standing up for truth, honesty and equality for all!” Brian Winfield of Equality Florida made this statement in response to the news of Brown’s conviction for Skipper’s murder, “Today’s verdict concludes the final trial of Ryan’s two attackers.  But it does not end the epidemic of anti-gay hate violence in Florida.  Ryan was killed because he was a gay man who lived his life honestly.  During the trials, witnesses revealed that Ryan’s murderers bragged about what they had done and ‘felt that they were doing the world a favor by getting rid of,’ their words ‘one more faggot.’”  Winfield went on to say that hate violence perpetrated against LGBT people in Florida had increased 33% each year for three of the last four years.  He concluded, “The violence Ryan suffered is the most extreme expression of an all too common sentiment – that gay and transgender people are less valued.  The silence of elected officials and even the media in the face of these violent attacks must end.  Gone are the days of blaming the victim for his own murder.”  No one from Brown’s family was present to support him in court today.

Ryan Skipper's gravestone

November 4, 2009 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Florida, gay men, gay panic defense, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Media Issues, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Guilty!: Second Defendant in Ryan Skipper Hate Murder Case

William_Brown_to_jail

William D. Brown on the way to jail

Bartow, FL – William D. “Bill Bill” Brown has been found guilty of first degree murder and burglary with a deadly weapon today by a jury in the Polk County, FL, county seat.  Skipper was slashed and stabbed to death in March of 2007 on a lonely, rural road in Wahneta, FL.  A woman who discovered his body beside the road ditch said that it seemed to her that someone had turned on “a sprinkler of blood.”  The 25-year-old college student had been stabbed with knives 19 times, according to the Polk County Medical Examiners Office, causing him to die of blood loss and trauma.  His murderers attempted to fence his automobile after trying in vain to remove blood from the interior of the vehicle.  Unable to find a buyer, they set the car afire at a boat ramp in Auburndale, but frustrated their own attempt by shutting the doors after kindling the blaze.  In a personal communication Lynn Mulder, Ryan Skipper’s step father, said, “William Brown was convicted today of first degree murder, burglary with a deadly weapon and he confessed his guilt in arson and tampering with evidence. Responsibility and accountability has been established and protection for society will occur on 1 Dec when he will be sentenced to life in prison without parole.”  More will be forthcoming from Ryan’s parents and friends as statements to the press outside the Bartow Courthouse become public.  Brown, who elected not to testify in the trial, contended in a pre-trial confession in 2007 that he had “blacked out” and could not remember if or how Ryan Skipper died.  Witnesses reported that he and his accomplice, Joseph “Smiley” Bearden, said they wanted “to rid the world of one more faggot.”  The Skipper case suffered in the media because of the irresponsibility of Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who merely repeated the defendants’ unsupported allegations concerning Skipper’s character and activities.  Judd prejudiced the media against Skipper, painting the victim as a person who in some way deserved his fate.  Though each unsupported claim made by the Sheriff’s Department has been systematically debunked, and the public communications director for the county has declared Skipper guiltless of any wrongdoing in any of these particulars, Sheriff Judd himself has never explained or apologized to the public or to Skipper’s parents and friends.  In February of this year, Bearden was found guilty on all counts, and was sentenced to life without parole.  As Mulder has suggested, Brown’s sentence is expected to be similar.  For further information and developments in this case, see the Ryan Skipper Documentary web site, and One Orlando.

November 3, 2009 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Florida, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Media Issues, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Slurs and epithets, stabbings | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Guilty!: Second Defendant in Ryan Skipper Hate Murder Case

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