Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Hope for 2010: A New Year’s Special Comment

As the old year passes, and with it the old decade, those of us who believe in Justice for LGBTQ people have memories to preserve, work to do, thanks to express, and hope to rekindle.  The Unfinished Lives Project was conceived as a visual and verbal resource for the public to use in the on-going struggle for freedom from violence and fear that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer folk face every day in the United States.  Wordpress tallies show that as of this writing nearly 44,000 have visited this site since its first posting in June 2008: to educate themselves about the slow-rolling holocaust facing members of the sexual minority, to bring the stories of so many casualties of homophobia and heterosexism to light who would otherwise be forgotten, and to steel themselves for the long, difficult, painful work of changing the culture of violence against the different in which we must live.  While countless hours of writing and research have gone into creating and maintaining this web site, that is nothing compared to the stress and loss faced by so many families and loved ones who have experienced the horrors of hate crime murder during these years.  The backstory of this blog has been and continues to be the awe-inspiring courage of the bereaved mothers, fathers, lovers and friends who have been thrust into the harsh glare of activism on behalf of the LGBTQ community because they refuse to allow their loved ones to have died in vain.  We owe them, and you, Dear Reader, our thanks and our continuing labor until Justice comes.  It is to that end we at the Unfinished Lives Project keep telling these grim stories of real people who suffer in America for no other “crime” than being who they are.  The past decade, especially the past year, has seen substantive change–not enough, nor comprehensive enough, to be sure–but real change nonetheless.  Cultural, political, and religious attitudes toward LGBTQ people are changing in this country.  The passage of the James Byrd, Jr. and Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the first comprehensive hate crimes law in federal history, is now law.  Convictions under state and federal hate crimes statutes, something conservative law makers and law enforcement officers said would never happen, are occurring already in bellweather states like Colorado and New York.   This trend will no doubt continue as the New Year dawns.  The infamous “gay panic” defense, and its evil twin, the “trans panic” defense are increasingly discredited and ineffective in American courts of law. Religious attitudes have thawed slightly, but the progress is real, if spotty.  Religion and Faith offices and activism, once thought to be the “third rail” of human rights politics, have been established in all the major advocacy organizations that lobby for change.  LGBTQ lives and practices are no longer viewed as criminal by the religious leaders of conscience in the United States, and tolerance toward queer folk in congregational life and leadership is on the rise: the Episcopal Church, the Alliance of Baptists, the United Church of Christ, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America are cases in point.  Homophobia in churches, synagogues, mosques and schools is not going unchallenged in American daily life, and that is encouraging.  ENDA, DADT, and many other legislative initiatives are on the horizon for the new decade.  Marriage Equality, which heretofore has been fought for state-by-state (often attended by an alarming hike in anti-LGBT hate crime violence where the issue is most hotly contested), and now advocates are re-evaluating the tactics and strategies of equality.  There is nothing magic about the passage of the Shepard Act.  Every day, in every region of the nation, LGBTQ people and those mistakenly assumed to be like us, are suffering violence and death, and from our researches at the Unfinished Lives Project, these statistics are increasing alarmingly.  One more life lost is one too many.  Fear is no way to live in the Land of the Free.  So, we who believe in Justice will greet the New Year with resolve.  An African American spiritual lyric testifies, “We Ain’t in No Wise Tired,” and that is providential.  We cannot rest until Justice comes.  And, we are glad to be in the fight for true “peace on earth, goodwill to all,” with you.

December 24, 2009 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, Colorado, DADT, ENDA, gay men, gay panic defense, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, Marriage Equality, Matthew Shepard Act, Media Issues, military, Mistaken as LGBT, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Popular Culture, religious intolerance, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, trans-panic defense, transgender persons | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ricky Martin Speaks Out Against Anti-LGBT Hate Violence in Puerto Rico

Legendary Latino entertainment idol, Ricky Martin (né Enrique José Martín Morales) spoke out against anti-LGBT hate crimes in his native Puerto Rico on Sunday in an op-ed written for El Nuevo Dia.  Martin, who has been the subject of persistent rumors concerning his own sexual orientation for years, is one of a growing chorus of Puerto Rican and other Latino/Latina entertainers who are decrying the spiking incidence of homophobic attacks on gay and gender non-conforming men in the United States Territory.  The brutal murder of Jorge Steven López Mercado, the 19-year-old gay man who was found decapitated, dismembered, and partially immolated in Cayey last month, has drawn national and international attention to the problem of cultural homophobia in the Caribbean.  Now, with the emerging story of what may well be another anti-gay murder in Ponce this past Wednesday, Martin and others have taken it upon themselves to speak out.  Olga Tañón, the talk radio personality, René Perez,the reggaeton artist, and 2001 Miss Universe Denise Quiñones are among other celebrities who are becoming outspoken on the issue along with Martin.  Boy in Bushwick quotes Martin as writing, “The deaths of James Byrd, like that of Matthew Shepard, Jorge Steven López, Marcelo Lucero and Luis Ramírez, like other victims of violent hate crimes, should be unacceptable to all human beings; because we are all human beings.”  Martin urged his readers to move beyond mere acceptance and toleration.  “If we accept each other, humanity will come together,” Martin wrote. “And if humanity comes together, equality for human rights will become a reality. If equality for human rights becomes a reality, peace will be within our reach.”  For high-profiled Martin, 38, to speak out so openly against homophobic violence is something of an event in itself.  He has consistently denied rumors about his own sexual orientation since the days he was lead singer for the pop group Menudo, and played a popular character in television’s General Hospital.  In 1999 he was named one of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People.”  But it was as a singer that the photogenic Puerto Ricaño made his most lasting reputation, with such English-language hits as “Livin’ La Vida Loca.”  Last year Martin announced the birth of twin sons by a surrogate mother.  The babies, Matteo and Valentino, were frequently photographed in their father’s arms, furthering a wholesome image Martin’s publicists have attempted to blend with his smoldering on-screen persona that made him a pop idol in the late 1990’s.  Martin has forayed into public affairs before.  He created the “Ricky Martin Foundation” which gave a million dollars’ worth of musical instrument to Puerto Rican public schools. The Foundation is also deeply involved in helping children who are victims of child prostitution and/or pornography, especially in India but also all around the world.  According to Martin, “This is the biggest problem our society is going to face within the next 10 years.”  This Sunday’s op-ed column, however, is the most outspoken Martin has ever become on the issue of LGBT concerns, and is both a measure of his growing maturity and the degree to which the recent horrific murders of gay men on his home island has shaken him in recent days.

December 22, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Decapitation and dismemberment, gay men, gay teens, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, Latino and Latina Americans, Legislation, Matthew Shepard, Media Issues, Popular Culture, Puerto Rico, Social Justice Advocacy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Ricky Martin Speaks Out Against Anti-LGBT Hate Violence in Puerto Rico

Arrest Made in Possible Hate Crime Murder in Puerto Rico

Ponce, Puerto Rico – Police arrested a suspect in the latest grisly murder in Puerto Rico over the weekend, according to EDGE Boston’s Michael Lavers.  Luis Díaz Rodríguez, 34, was jailed late Saturday night in connection with the December 16 murder of Fernando Vargas López de Victoria, 35 years of age, in a room in Ponce’s Motel Las Colinas (shown in photo at left).  Investigators reported that the victim, 5’1″ and 230 lbs., was found naked, lying face down.  He had been savagely stabbed 20 times and his throat had been slit.  The pattern of wounds on the victim’s hands and arms is consistent with a person struggling in self-defense.  Police Sergeant Richard Nazario told reporters for El Nuevo Dia that  Díaz Rodríguez and López de Victoria arrived at the hotel on Tuesday, Dec. 15. He said the two men began to smoke crack cocaine inside their room, and the attack took place in the course of “an argument.”  Motel employees,who apparently recognized the victim, said López de Victoria worked for Puerto Rico’s Department of Housing. He was thought to be gay, but there is no confirmation at the time of this report.  Díaz Rodríguez is charged with first degree murder and several weapons crimes, and is being held on $800,000 bond as the investigation continues.  LGBT activist spokesman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Pedro Julio Serrano has called for the case to be treated as an anti-LGBT hate crime murder. “Given that the victim is thought to have arrived at the motel with another man, the brutality of the crime, the hate with which it was committed, we must insist that the authorities investigate this as a hate crime,” he said.

December 22, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, gay men, Hate Crimes, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Puerto Rico, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Arrest Made in Possible Hate Crime Murder in Puerto Rico

Another Brutal Murder in Puerto Rico

Ponce, Puerto Rico – Boy in Bushwick who runs a fine blog reports that an unidentified man was found horrifically stabbed and slashed to death in a Ponce motel on December 16.  The 40-45-year-old man, believed to be gay, was found nude in a Motel Las Colinas room with his throat slashed and 20 stab wounds in areas of his body consistent with injuries someone would sustain who tried to defend himself.  Investigators on the scene told local reporters that the unidentified victim checked into the motel the day before with another man.  This second man left the motel at about 1:30 pm on Wednesday.  Police are trying to find him for questioning.  The Dallas Voice, quick to pick up on the story, observes that this savage stabbing death occurred just a little over a month after the most notorious anti-gay hate crime in Puerto Rican history took place in Cayey.  Jorge Steven López Mercado, a gay 19-year-old who was well known in the Puerto Rican LGBT community, was decapitated, dismembered, and partially immolated on November 13.  Juan A. Martínez Matos, 26, has confessed to the murder and is copping to a form of the “gay panic defense” as an excuse for his actions. The López Mercado hate crime murder drew international attention, and uncovered the homophobic underside of society in the United States Territory.  Some attempts are being made to besmirch the character of the unidentified murder victim, using innuendo to suggest that since he checked into the motel with another man, something like this was more likely to happen.  Pedro Julio Serrano, the leading activist voice of the Puerto Rican LGBT community, is attempting to pre-empt this none-too-subtle homophobic/heterosexist tactic.  Boy in Bushwick quotes Serrano as saying to Spanish-speaking media, “[Despite] the particular circumstances of his arrival at the motel with another man, the brutality of his murder, the hate with which [the second man allegedly] committed it and through clear signs of cruelty, we ask the authorities to investigate the hate angle in this case.”

December 18, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Decapitation and dismemberment, gay men, gay panic defense, gay teens, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Puerto Rico, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, Torture and Mutilation, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Another Brutal Murder in Puerto Rico

Hate Crime Convict Denied Parole For 5th Time, But May Be Out In A Year

Paul Broussard (l) and Jon Buice (r)

Huntsville, TX – A parole board in Huntsville, Texas has denied Jon Buice parole for the 5th time in connection with his role in the 1991 murder of gay Houston banker, Paul Broussard.  Buice was convicted in 1992 for stabbing Broussard several times outside the Houston gay nightclub Heaven and was sentenced to 45 years in prison. He has served 17 years of his sentence.  Fox 26 News has learned that the convicted killer may be granted parole in little more than a year from now.  Andy Kahan, a victims’ rights activist, told Fox 26 reporters that he could not remember any other case as serious as this one in which a prisoner has been denied parole only to be available for parole just one year later.  Broussard’s mother, Nancy Rodriguez, flew from Georgia to testify at the November parole board hearing for her son’s murderer.  In 2007, as she was about to attend Buice’s 3rd parole hearing, Rodriguez said to KPRC Local News 2 reporters,”I still miss my son terribly. I really do. I think about where would he be today. What would he have accomplished in his life?”   Rodriguez has tirelessly fought to keep Buice in prison for at least 27 full calendar years, one year’s imprisonment for each year of Paul’s short life.  In 1991, 10 males, including Buice, attacked Broussard and two other men as they left the Montrose area gay nightclub.  According to testimony at the 1992 trial, the teens who brutally beat and stabbed Broussard to death were under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Buice is the last person remaining in prison for the hate crime murder.  Buice has his advocates, too.  They point out that he has changed his life.  While in prison, he has earned several college degrees, and he has been what his boosters describe as “a model prisoner.”  Rodriguez is not impressed by their arguments.  “The issue is not what he’s become,” she said to the Houston press.  “It’s what he’s done to get here.”

December 17, 2009 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, stabbings, Texas | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

López Mercado Murder To Be Treated as Anti-LGBT Hate Crime Killing

San Juan, Puerto Rico – A federal prosecutor in San Juan has announced that her office is continually monitoring the investigation of the horrific torture-murder of Jorge Steven López Mercado, and promised that she will bring hate crimes charges in the event that Puerto Rican authorities do not.  The EDGE reports that United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez told the Puerto Rican press she was prepared to lodge anti-LGBT hate crimes charges against Juan A. Martínez Matos, the self-confessed killer of the 19-year-old out gay youth.  If she carries through, this will be the first prosecution under the provisions of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act since it was signed into law by President Barack Obama in October.  Martínez Matos, 26, allegedly decapitated, dismembered, and attempted to immolate López Mercado, dumping his remains on a lonely stretch of road outside Cayey on November 13.  As an excuse for his crime, the alleged killer has claimed that he was surprised to find out that the youth, who was dressed as a female, was actually a gay person.  Believing that Puerto Rican attitudes are still conservative enough to credit some form of the well-worn “gay panic” defense, Martínez Matos says that previous bad encounters with a gay man in his youth caused him to explode with rage.  A judge has ruled that Martínez Matos must undergo psychological evaluation to establish that he is mentally healthy enough to stand trial.  Local LGBT activists have decried the ruling, but are welcoming the announcement of the United States Attorney that hate crime charges may be brought in this case.  Pedro Julio Serrano said to the EDGE, “We are satisfied that the federal authorities are monitoring this case and that they’re respecting the work that the local authorities are doing.  We are all vigilant to this process and we won’t rest until justice is served. This was a horrible hate crime and Puerto Rico needs to send a powerful message to the world that we do not tolerate homophobia in any of its ugly forms.”

December 15, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Decapitation and dismemberment, gay men, gay panic defense, gay teens, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Puerto Rico, Torture and Mutilation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bad Hombres: Arrests in Possible Anti-LGBT Violence in West Texas

Brewster County, TX – Two men have been arrested and charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 19-year-old man in Terlingua, Texas on Sunday, December 6 in what is unfolding into a possible anti-gay hate crime story. While the sexual orientation of the victim remains officially undisclosed, local sources allege that the teenager is gay.  Daniel Martinez, 46, has been charged with sexual assault and is being held on $35,000 bond. Kristopher Buchanan, 27, is being held on outstanding warrants from other counties. The suspects are expected to face additional charges.  Pink News summarizes reports from Texas saying that the victim ,whose name has not been released by law enforcement, was abducted outside a bar in Terlingua, a town on the Texas-Mexico Border, and driven in his own car to a remote area in southern Brewster County.  The Big Bend Gazette reports that the youth was sexually assaulted by the pair before his car was set afire.  He was forced into a private residence where his attackers sexually assaulted him again.  He managed to escape, running three miles across the desert to a highway where a Brewster County Sheriff’s Deputy spotted him and took him to a hospital for treatment.  Officials say that the victim is currently recovering in an undisclosed location.  Law enforcement has been tight-lipped about the crime, but both local and LGBT press have speculated that the assault was an anti-gay hate crime.  Some have gone so far as to equate the attack with the fatal pistol-whipping of hate crime victim Matthew Shepard.  When questioned about the investigation, Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson told reporters that the case is being treated as a kidnapping, sexual assault and auto arson. “Everybody’s in jail,” said Dodson. “That’s the best part.”  A rally was held last night in support of the victim.

December 15, 2009 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Arson, gay teens, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Kidnapping and sexual assault, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Matthew Shepard, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, rape, Texas, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Jane Doe” Lesbian Rape Hearing Set A Year After the Crime

Josue Gonzalez, suspect in "Jane Doe" Rape Case

Contra Costa County, California – According to The Bay Area Reporter, an out lesbian known only to the public as “Jane Doe” was brutally raped by four men who attacked her because of her sexual orientation.  The first preliminary hearing on the case is scheduled to be held in January 2010, over a year after the savage rape incident that nearly took her life.  On December 13, 2008 at about 9:30 p.m., “Jane,” 28 at the time of the attack according to an AP wire service report,  was sexually assaulted by the men who watched her get out of her car in Richmond’s Belding-Woods neighborhood.  They had noticed a rainbow pride sticker on the car window, which police allege aided them in targeting the lesbian.  They forced her back into her car after being disturbed by someone approaching the scene of the crime, and drove her seven blocks to another location near an apartment complex on Burbeck Avenue where she was repeatedly sexually assaulted and beaten with a blunt object.  During the assault, the rapists allegedly taunted her for being a lesbian.  They stole her wallet, dumped her naked on the street, and drove away in her car, which was later identified by a rainbow sticker on the windshield.  Wounded and bleeding, “Jane” crawled to one of the apartments, and found help from the residents, who called the Richmond police.  She was transported to the hospital where her injuries were treated, and evidence of the rapes was collected with a rape kit.  “Jane’s” car was located in Richmond the next day.  Four suspects were arrested two weeks later, Humberto Hernandez Salvador, 32; Josue Gonzalez, 22; Darrell Albert Hodges, 16; and Robert James Ortiz, 16.  Salvador, Gonzalez, and Hodges pleaded not guilty earlier this year to felony kidnapping, carjacking, forcible rape, and forcible oral copulation.  Ortiz will enter a plea on similar charges January 7, according to documents of the court.  Bail for Ortiz is $3.5 million, bail for Salvador is $2.2 million, and bail for Gonzalez and Hodges is $1.9 million.  The Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney, Danielle Douglas told BAR reporters that the victim, who is partnered and has an eight year old child, is “coping” the best she can.  “That’s really all I can say,” Douglas said. “She’s doing her best to try to move forward.”  Richmond Police spokesman Lieutenant Mark Gagan commented to the BAR on the brutality of the crime:  “What’s difficult in this case is the level of aggression that the suspects showed was so immediate and over the top I don’t think that there was anything that our victim could have done to avoid being victimized,” said Gagan. “From what I understand, it was an immediate, extremely aggressive attack without provocation and without really any warning.”  District Attorney Office spokespeople say that the complexity of this case makes it move so slowly through the court system.  Since serious jail time is involved for all the suspects if proven guilty, each one of them has secured separate counsel, and all the defense attorneys are asking for maximum time to prepare for the trials, which will probably be split among the defendants rather being done as a single trial for all four men.  “Jane Doe’s” legal counsel, Gloria Allred, who represented the mother of slain transgender woman Gwen Araujo, is not pressing the court dates, given the level of trauma her client sustained from the multiple rapes and the viciousness of the attack.  A preliminary hearing is set for early January 2010, a usual legal procedure in California law in rape cases.  If the preliminary hearing uncovers evidence enough for a trial in the case, then the wheels of justice will turn toward days in court for the four defendants and the victim of one of Richmond’s most brutal anti-LGBT hate crimes.

December 11, 2009 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, California, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Lesbian women, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, rape, Slurs and epithets, transgender persons | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Jane Doe” Lesbian Rape Hearing Set A Year After the Crime

Puerto Rican Gay Teen’s Confessed Murderer Sent for Psychological Testing

Juan A. Martínez Matos in Custody

The confessed killer of  gay teen Jorge Steven López Mercado has been ordered by a judge to undergo psychological evaluation, according to EDGE Boston.  Juan A. Martínez Matos, who confessed that he slaughtered his victim in a moment of “gay panic,” will be tested as to his fitness to stand trial before being returned to the court in Caguas on or before January 13, 2010.  LGBT advocates in Puerto Rico and on the United States mainland have expressed anger at the judicial move.  Pedro Julio Serrano, leading LGBT activist, told EDGE on December 9, “This is outrageous. The reality is we’re seeking justice and we will not rest until this process is done without prejudice.”  Serrano said that the concerns expressed by the gay youth’s grieving family were simply for justice to be done.  Both Serrano and López Mercado’s family have been assured by local prosecutor Yaritza Carrasquillo that the investigation into his gruesome murder will be conducted as a hate crime under the territory’s sexual orientation hate crimes statute.  The LGBT activist community in Puerto Rico remains skeptical.  Though a law protecting LGBT people has been on the books for years, local prosecutors have been unwilling to use the hate crimes provision in any LGBT-related cases up to this point.  If any murder qualifies as a bias-motivated anti-LGBT crime, the November 13, 2009 killing of López Mercado surely does.  Matos confessed shortly after his arrest that he carried out the crime in a homophobic rage because of an encounter with a gay man in his youth, setting the stage for doubts to be sewn about his mental state at the time of the murder.  Matos allegedly beheaded his 19-year-old victim, severed his arms and legs from his torso, and attempted to burn the body, which was found dumped by the side of a road in rural Cayey.  He is charged with first-degree murder for the slaying, and is being held on $4 million bail.

December 10, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Decapitation and dismemberment, gay men, gay panic defense, gay teens, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Puerto Rico, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, Torture and Mutilation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Puerto Rican Gay Teen’s Confessed Murderer Sent for Psychological Testing

Neo-Nazi’s Trial Begins for Murdering Boy He Thought Was Gay

Kristofer King, murdered at 17

New Port Richey, FL – John Allen Ditulio, Jr., 23, is on trial in Pasco County Florida for the 2006 stabbing murder of a 17-year-old boy he thought was gay.  Kristofer King, the victim, was a houseguest of Patricia Wells and her son, Brandon Wininger, on the night of March 23, 2006 when Ditulio, a member of the American Nazis, allegedly invaded the Wells home angered by her relationship with an African American man and by the fact that her son was gay.  At midnight, according to Crime News 2000, a man wearing a military-style gas mask broke into the Griffin Park area trailer and attacked Wells, who was dozing on a futon.  The assailant slashed Wells in the face and hands, and then turned his murderous attentions to King, who had been on a computer in another room, and tried to escape from the home.  He stabbed King repeatedly, and then fled the scene.  Patricia Wells remembered that the boy cried out in the midst of the attack, “Why are you doing this to me?”  King died from blood loss the next day at an area hospital.  Charlene King, the victim’s mother, believes that her son’s murder was a case of mistaken identity.  She told the St. Petersburg Times that the attacker must have thought Kristofer King was Wininger, whom the Neo-Nazi hated because he was gay.  “What makes it so awful for being killed by someone like that is that Kris never judged anyone by their skin color or sexual preference,” the grieving mother said.  “If you were his friend, you were his friend. They thought it was Brandon because Brandon is gay.  What kind of a man would do this?  Even if Kris had been Brandon, how can you just take a young man’s life?”  The King family acknowledged that Kristofer and Brandon were good friends, and that their son would sometimes stay overnight at his friend’s trailer.  Wininger was away from his home on the night of the attack.  Wells and Wininger had trouble with the “Teak Street Nazis” before.  Their trailer home was adjacent to the swastika-draped Nazi compound, and on at least one occasion members of the hate group had tried to break into their home.  They had shouted racial and anti-gay epithets at them for weeks before the double stabbing.  The St. Petersburg Times also reports that Guy King, the murder victim’s father, received a Christmas card from Ditulio, decorated with a tombstone drawn on the front that read, “Rest In Peace. Here Lies Dead Faggot.”  The message inside: “I hope your Christmas is full of memories of your dead gay son. Merry f—— Christmas.”  The card was signed, “Syn,” Ditulio’s nickname among the Nazis, according to Pasco County prosecutors.  Authorities are treating the case as a hate crime as well as murder and assault.  Ditulio, who was 20 at the time of the attack, is charged with first degree murder and first degree attempted murder.  If convicted, he may face the death penalty.  The year following his arrest and imprisonment pending the trial, Ditulio attempted to escape, using hacksaw blades and a makeshift rope made of bed sheets. He was stymied by a tangle of pipes as he tried to saw his way out of his cell through a metal toilet, according to the Tampa Tribune.  Defense attorneys have tried to sew doubt about the identity of the attacker, as well as attempting to play up the mistaken identity aspect of the case in order to lessen their client’s liability.  They successfully argued to the judge that Ditulio’s offensive tattoos covering his face and neck, which he acquired while in prison awaiting trial, would prejudice the jury against their client.  The judge, in a controversial ruling, ordered that a makeup artist would be hired for ten days at the rate of up to $125 a day to cover Ditulio’s tattoos.  Before and after photos of Ditulio may be seen below, courtesy of the local Fox affliliate.  

December 9, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Florida, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, home-invasion, Law and Order, Mistaken as LGBT, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacy, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, stabbings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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