Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay University Freshman Commits Suicide After Privacy Invasion with Hidden Camera

Piscataway, New Jersey – An 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge September 22 after his roommate live-streamed his sex session with another male using a hidden camera.  The New York Daily News reports that Tyler Clementi, a renowned young violinist who had just enrolled at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, left his car on the New Jersey shore, walked to a spot on the George Washington Bridge near the New York side, and plunged to his death in the Hudson River.  His body has not been recovered.  Authorities say that he left a suicide note.  His roommate, Dharun Ravi, 18, posted that Clementi had “asked for the room” at midnight, so Ravi enabled a hidden web cam, went to the room of his high school friend, Molly Wei, and switched on her computer to live-stream Clementi’s tryst.  Wei is also 18 years old.  “I went into Molly’s room and turned on my webcam,” Ravi posted.  “I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”  The Twitter post went out on the internet on September 19, three days before Clementi’s suicide.  Ravi and Wei, both from Asian American extraction and Rutgers freshmen on the Piscataway campus, are charged with two counts each of invasion of privacy under a New Jersey law.  Illegally collecting or viewing images showing sexual contact involving another individual without that individual’s consent in the Garden State is a fourth-degree crime. Transmitting or distributing such images is a third-degree crime. Ravi has also been charged with two more counts of invasion of privacy for his attempt to broadcast another sex session Clementi is alleged to have had on September 21.  Both suspects surrendered peacefully to university police.  Ravi is free on $25,000 bond.  Wei was released on her own recognizance pending prosecution.  The top penalty the two web-voyeurs could receive if found guilty as charged is five years in prison for each count.  Officials of the university are making no comment on the alleged crimes so long as the investigations are proceeding.  Clementi is remembered as a wonderfully gifted musician.  His parents have been devastated, and are making no comment to the press.  Apparently the shock of being outed in such a public and humiliating way led him to such despair that he could not bear to live.  As Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin said, “It’s not just high school kids being bullied and humiliated to their deaths.”

September 29, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Asian Americans, cyber voyeurism, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ suicide, New Jersey, New York, suicide | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gay Houston Boy Bullied To Death: Shoots Himself After Unbearable School Torment

Houston, TX – An eighth grader took his life on September 23 as a consequence of unbearable bullying in his school.  School officials deny any knowledge of the boy’s mistreatment, an allegation that the boy’s parents vehemently deny.  13-year-old Asher Brown, a bright student at Hamilton Middle School on the outskirts of Houston, shot himself in the head after at least two years of torment from bullies who taunted him for being small for his age, for not wearing designer clothing, and for being “gay.”  According to the Houston Chronicle, Asher’s stepfather found him dead at about 4:30 pm from a gunshot wound on the floor of a closet in their Cypress, Texas home.  He had used a 9mm Beretta pistol his stepfather kept hidden in a closet drawer.  His parents, Amy and David Truong, say that bullies in gym class took advantage of his small stature, and performed mock male-on-male sex acts on him to humiliate their son.  In the most recent case of harassment, Asher told his parents that a student tripped him coming down the stairs, causing him to spill his books on the floor.  When he stooped down to collect them, the bully kicked the books out of his reach, kicked him down the rest of the stairs, and taunted him. His stepfather said to Queerty, “I thought he was laying there [on the floor of the closet] reading a book or something,” he says. “My son put a gun to his head because he couldn’t take what he was hearing and the constant teasing.”  His mother related how anti-gay harassment troubled her son: “They called him different names for being homosexual,” she says. “He just had enough.”  There are conflicting reports about Asher’s coming out process as a gay boy.  According to Queerty, one report suggests that he came out to his parents back in the summer, and found them to be loving and understanding at that time.  Another report contends that he came out to his stepfather David the night before his suicide.  Asher found comfort in a group of other students who were ostracized for one reason or another at school.  In a school culture where officials seemed to care a great deal about dress code and tardiness, but nothing at all about bullying, the pressure got greater than Asher could bear.  The Truongs contend that they have called and emailed Houston Cy-Fair Independent School District officials pleading with them to watch their son.  Kelli Durham, spokesperson for the school, at first denied that any such communication ever took place.  Later, walking back her claim, Durham indicated that she did get an email from the Truongs about Asher, but it wasn’t about mistreatment by bullies.  The Truongs responded to the denials of the school system with anger. “That’s absolutely inaccurate — it’s completely false,” Amy Truong said. “I did not hallucinate phone calls to counselors and assistant principals. We have no reason to make this up. … It’s like they’re calling us liars. “David Truong said, “We want justice. The people here need to be held responsible and to be stopped. It did happen. There are witnesses everywhere.”  The Cy-Fair School District has a history of gay student harassment, as the Unfinished Lives Project reported in November 2009, with a violent attack against a gay youth at Langham High School.  The night before his suicide, Asher seemed sad to his parents.  They asked him about it, but he said he was “fine.”  The next day, he was dead.  Now the Truongs are appealing to other families and friends to go beyond “fine” whenever they suspect depression from a child who has been bullied in school.  They believe that the senseless loss of life due to school bullying and gay teen suicide must stop, and so do we at the Unfinished Lives Project.  Asher may have taken his own life, but the hate-motivated bullying in his school and the attitude that permitted it to go on there constitutes as clear a case of anti-gay hate crime as we have seen. According to the Houston Chronicle, Asher’s mother sent out his message to the bullies who tormented her son: “I hope you’re happy with what you’ve done. I hope you got what you wanted and you’re just real satisfied with yourself.”  A memorial service for Asher is planned for Saturday, October 2, beginning at 10 am in the park beside Moore Elementary School, 13734 Lakewood Forest Drive in Houston.  The public is invited to attend.

September 29, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, Bullying in schools, funerals, gay teens, gun violence, harassment, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ suicide, Slurs and epithets, suicide, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Indiana Teenager Bullied To Death

Billy Lucas, Bullied to Death in Indiana

Greensburg, Indiana – Fifteen-year-old Billy Lucas, pushed beyond the limit by bullies at Greensburg High School, committed suicide on September 9.  His mother found his lifeless body hanging in the family barn.  Waves of regret are sweeping over the Indiana town, too little and too late for Billy, but, pray God, not too late for many other youth who are targeted by bullies because they are believed to be lesbian or gay.  Fox News 59 reports that Billy was harassed for being gay since the day he entered the troubled school.  Dillen Swango told reporters that Billy was singled out for being gay, harassed mercilessly with taunts like, “You are a piece of dirt,” and “You don’t deserve to live.”  Student Bobby Quinlan said, “He got a chair pulled out from him and was told to go hang himself.” The Greensburg school has a troubled past when it comes to bullying.  An anonymous graduate of Greensburg High, interviewed on Fox 59, said that he had been similarly hounded for being gay when he was Billy’s age, and reported the harassment to school officials, who did nothing with the information.  The former student is now 21, and counts himself lucky to have lived.  School Principal, Phillip Chapple, claimed not to know about the way Billy was targeted by bullies, but acknowledged to reporters that it was well-known that bullying was going on in the school.  Local people and concerned citizens across the nation are outraged that school officials tolerated bullying in the school.  Calls are being made by lawmakers to toughen Indiana’s anti-bullying law for schools.  Yet there are not plans to charge anyone for the anguish and harm done to Billy at Greensburg.  As is common in these instances, blame is shifted, apologies are muttered, flowers are sent to a grave, and, because this was a suicide, little change follows except the inestimable loss to family and friends of a fine young man who students say was dogged by harassment since he was in the fourth grade.  As quoted by Towelroad.com, Charles Robbins, Executive Director of the Trevor Project, the nation’s largest anti-teen suicide advocacy group, released this statement following Billy Lucas’s death: “We are saddened to once again hear of another young person who died of suicide as a result of school bullying. Billy Lucas, a 15-year-old at Greensburg High School stood out among the 630 students in the school because he was different. Other students perceived that Billy was gay and he was relentlessly tormented as a result.While the school district does have anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies, the policies do not specifically protect youth from harassment due to real or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression. Only eleven states in the country offer fully inclusive anti-harassment and anti-bullying education policies, and Indiana is not among them.” The Trevor Project offers a resource page listing warning signs of possible teen suicide, which may be accessed here. Students have opened a memorial page on Facebook, and readers are encouraged to visit the site.  Most of all, school officials must be compelled to institute a ZERO TOLERANCE policy for harassing behavior in their schools, and law makers in Indiana and around the nation must enact comprehensive, tough laws criminalizing bullying behaviors and school official negligence when they suspect bullying is taking place, but tacitly agree with the bad behavior by doing nothing to prevent it.  Billy Lucas’s death may have been his own act, but the bullies and impotent school officials who created the toxic environment for this needless suicide are clearly to blame.  What Billy Lucas suffered was an anti_LGBT hate crime, plain and simple.  The LGBTQ community and its allies must find the outrage within, strong enough to press for safe schools for everyone until change comes about in Greensburg and around the nation.  (The Unfinished Lives Team thanks Richard W. Fitch for contributing to this post).

September 15, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Blame the victim, Bullying in schools, gay teens, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Indiana, Legislation, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ suicide, Mistaken as LGBT, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Remembrances, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, Trevor Project | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Out Impact Magazine Features Hate Crimes Work of Unfinished Lives Project

Sprinkle at Cathedral of Hope, Dallas (Barb Nunn photo)

Out Impact, the Gay Online Magazine, has a feature news article on the work of the Unfinished Lives Project and its Director, Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle, in its latest issue.  Chrishelle Griffin, a graduate of Spelman College, carried out the interview with Dr. Sprinkle for Out Impact.  In a portion of the Q & A, Griffin asked Dr. Sprinkle what he believes are the most glaring misconceptions about hate crimes against LGBTQ people. “Let me share two with you,” Sprinkle responded..  “The first is that LGBTQ hate crimes victims were engaging in ‘risky’ behaviors that contributed to their deaths.  This is nothing but an internalized version of the old ‘gay panic defense’ that says we are somehow responsible for the victimization we suffer.  I never met a gay hate crimes survivor who had a death wish,” Sprinkle said.  “These women and men were simply trying to live what is normal for them.  They were looking for love, seeking companionship, or whatever.  Straight people do the same sorts of things all the time.  We, however, live in a culture that makes our lives vulnerable—all of our lives, for every one of us.  That is the message most of us never seem to get.  As long as the majority culture permits some of us to be killed and maimed, every one of us is at risk.”  Sprinkle then shared a further misconception that he wishes would be dispelled from the American mind: “Second,” Sprinkle went on to say, “the murders of LGBTQ people are not ‘tragedies.’  There is nothing tragic about murder.  It is an outrage, a capital crime, an attack on the whole human race and the persons of the victims who are targeted, but not a ‘tragedy.’  People don’t get worked up over tragedies.  They experience a catharsis from a tragedy, and then move on.  Hate crime murder is a human horror perpetrated against some members of a group to terrorize the whole group.  We must find our anger about this, so that we will act to stop these senseless hate crimes.”  In response to Out Impact’s question, “Who pushes you to be better?” Sprinkle said, “Two groups of people motivate me to be better.  The first group is made up of my students.  I teach theology at Brite Divinity School, and the wonderful interaction I have with students continually pushes me to be better.  The second group of people is made up of the family, friends, and lovers of the LGBTQ hate crimes victims I have met around the nation.  Mothers, sisters, dads, children, co-workers, neighbors, broken hearted lovers: many of them have become “accidental activists,” shoved by circumstance into the glaring light of public advocacy because of the unspeakable horror they endured when hate took away someone dear to them.  These are great Americans, and the notion of their courage keeps me going.” For the complete interview and a series of photographs illustrating the work of the project, go to:  http://www.outimpact.com/activism/gay-rights/hate-crimes/steve-sprinkle-tackling-hate-crimes-lgbtq-community.

September 14, 2010 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, gay men, gay panic defense, gay teens, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, Media Issues, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), Out Impact, Remembrances, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, Uncategorized, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, vandalism | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lesbian Couple’s Home Burned In Hate Crime

Vonore, Tennessee – The home of a Monroe County, Tennessee lesbian couple was burned to the ground and their garage defaced by anti-gay graffiti in what is believed to be a hate crime. On Saturday, September 4, the house was set ablaze, and the word “Queer” was spray painted on two sides of the family garage, which was left standing.  WATE, Channel 6, Knoxville reports that the couple, Carol and Laura Stutte, had been threatened in August by a neighbor who said he was going to burn their house down because they were lesbian.  He also threatened their lives, according to Stutte.  They reported the threat to the police, but there is no report as to the status of the complaint at this time.  The couple, who have been together 15 years, moved to Vonore from Oklahoma. The crime occurred while the Stutte’s were celebrating their fifth anniversary in Tennessee with friends in Nashville.  At present, the couple is in a safe house in Nashville while the investigation is going forward.  They have no plans to return to the property, and are staying away out of prudence and fear.  Other neighbors have defended the couple, saying that lesbians make good neighbors, and are welcome in Vonore. Members of the community, especially PFLAG of Maryville, and the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church are responding with funds and household goods, since the couple has lost everything.  As Becky Lucas, president of PFLAG Maryville said, “We are hopeful that the authorities will investigate it fully and that this couple will get justice. I think this happens every day to people in this community and many times they don’t speak up because they are afraid. Everybody deserves basic human rights.”  Lucas went on to say to reporters, “We want to send a message to this couple and other couples like them — you do have many allies in this area. Many people in the community are just as outraged as I am.” Care2.com reports that no determination has yet been made by local authorities about whether the incident will be classified an hate crime.  According to Care2, “Detective Travis Jones, with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, has confirmed that the department is investigating the arson with the aid of the state Bomb and Arson Squad, that there are ‘people of interest’ in the case.”  The lesbians say that they would like to remain in the area, but they would never rebuild on the same site.

September 13, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Arson, death threats, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Lesbian women, PFLAG, Slurs and epithets, Tennessee, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Anti-LGBT Junk Suit Fails Against Shepard Hate Crimes Law

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights Campaign Back Story reports that a suit brought against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act failed in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Michigan.  The suit, put forward by Michigan pastors and the American Family Association of Michigan, challenged the constitutionality of the Shepard Act in February of this year.  Among its claims, the suit alleged that the Shepard Act forecloses on the free exercise of fundamental rights of those who “publicly oppose homosexual activism, the homosexual lifestyle, and the homosexual agenda.”  Further, the law suit argues that the Shepard Act creates “thought crimes” and “is an effort to eradicate religious beliefs opposing the homosexual agenda.”  The three Michigan pastors claimed that the law had chilled their rights under the First Amendment, the Tenth Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause, and the Commerce Clause.  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called upon the court to dismiss the case, arguing that the Shepard Act does not violate the rights of Americans, and was passed to protect LGBTQ people in this country from physical violence, not thought or speech.  The judge hearing the case agreed with Attorney General Holder, and dismissed the case as meritless on all counts on September 7.

September 8, 2010 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, gay men, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Human Rights Campaign, Legislation, Lesbian women, Matthew Shepard Act, Michigan, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, U.S. Justice Department, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Anti-LGBT Junk Suit Fails Against Shepard Hate Crimes Law

Execution-Style Murders Plague Atlanta Black Gay Pride

Atlanta, Georgia – Two gay black men attending last weekend’s Atlanta Black Gay Pride were found shot to death “execution-style” on Sunday night in southeast Atlanta.  The Advocate reports that  the victims, Calvin Streater, 26, of Atlanta and Samuel Blizzard, Jr., 21, of Spring Cove, Virginia, were discovered by a friend at the Richmond Hill Apartments at approximately 10 p.m..  Blizzard was a student at Georgia State University.  Atlanta police said that one man was found in a front room and the other in a bedroom in the apartment.  Both of the victims had been shot in the back of the head.  At this point in the investigation, the Atlanta Police Department is not yet ready to classify the murders as hate crime killings.  As an investigator for the APD told The Examiner, “The men were at a Black Gay Pride event at some point during the day…We do not know if their sexual orientation played a role in the shooting deaths.”  Police surmise that the men knew their killer, since there was no evidence of a break-in, and Richmond Hill is a gated facility.  Others suggest that the killer or killers could have gained entrance to the complex on foot when a car was buzzed in by other residents.  The Atlanta Black Gay community is up in arms, and is demanding answers.  In the days prior to Atlanta Black Pride, one of the major organizers of the event, Durand Robinson, also a gay black man, was gunned down on a street in southwest Atlanta. His body was found in the middle of the street with a gunshot wound to his chest.  EDGE reports that Robinson’s murder has not yet been classified as a hate crime killing, since police are operating on the theory that Robinson was murdered in a car-jacking incident.  The slayings of three gay men associated with Atlanta Black Gay Pride have marred the Labor Day weekend event, which is billed as the largest gathering of LGBTQ black people in the world.  The state of Georgia does not have an anti-LGBT hate crimes law on the books.  These recent murders have made the debate over such legislation more urgent.  No arrests have been made in any of these cases.  Commenting on the lack of hate crimes legislation in the state, Carlos Campos, spokesperson for the Atlanta Police Department, told the Examiner, “In March 2006, the Georgia Senate reinstated a hate crime bill in the state, but after much debate, the House deleted provisions that specified hate crimes as those committed because of the victims’ sexual orientation, race, gender, religion or ancestry to naming the only offenses committed “because of bias or prejudice.”   Vigils have been held in memory of the victims, and more activism on their behalf is sure to follow.

September 8, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, gay men, Georgia, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, multiple homicide, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Execution-Style Murders Plague Atlanta Black Gay Pride

Alleged Lincoln Gay Basher Lied About ID, Galvanizes Gay Community

Lucas Clifford, 19, falsely identified as "Luke Stevens" in previous news stories

Lincoln, Nebraska – The Lincoln Police Department announced today that the 22-year-old man who allegedly bashed a gay man outside a gay club last Friday lied about his identity and used a fake ID card.  The Journal Star reported on Labor Day that the man claiming to be Luke Stevens is actually Lucas M. Clifford, 19 years of age.  There is no confusion about his role in the gay bashing, however, since a police officer saw Clifford throw a punch at a 32-year-old gay man after using anti-gay slurs and epithets.  As the Journal Star reports, “Lincoln Police Capt. Jim Davidsaver said Monday that Lucas M. Clifford, 19, 1014 Claremont St., was cited Friday evening on suspicion of possessing an Indiana ID that gave his name as Luke Stevens, 22.”  It is not known as of this writing about whether Clifford, then thought to be Stevens, was indeed a UNL student as reports suggested on Friday.  The citation for using a fake ID deepens the trouble Clifford is already in for the attack outside Club Q.  He was charged for third-degree assault and commission of a hate crime in Lancaster County Court on Friday.  While the name of the man charged with these offenses remains “Luke Stevens” on the record this Monday, his true identity will replace the false one on all court documents and police records, according to Captain Davidsaver.  A bit more detail about the assault has been released to the press.  Clifford went to Club Q Thursday night, September 2, and stayed at or about the bar all night.  The first Thursday of each month, Club Q sponsors an amateur “Strip Night” contest offering cash prizes, an event that has proved popular in the community, drawing men and women to the bar for excitement and inexpensive drinks. Clifford would not have had to use a fake ID to gain entrance to the club, since persons 19 and older were admitted.  At some point in the evening, Clifford’s advances toward a girl attending the event were spurned, and he became outraged at her rejection.  At about 1:40 a.m., Clifford and a 19-year-old friend, Travis Garrett, went out of the bar, where the verbal abuse and attack against a gay man took place in the sight of a Lincoln Police officer, who arrested the alleged assailant on the spot after a short struggle.  The victim was treated for minor injuries on the scene and released.  Garrett, Clifford’s friend, was also arrested and charged with disturbing the peace.  A statement on the Facebook site for Club Q credits the hate crime attack with galvanizing the LGBTQ community to face the threat: “It was great to see so many people respond to the whole hate crime situation.  It was an unfortunate event but the positive side to it is that the GLBTF community rallied and that can only make us stronger and more cohesive.”

September 6, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay men, harassment, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Nebraska, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lincoln Man Charged with Anti-Gay Hate Crime

Alleged gay basher, Luke Stevens

Lincoln, Nebraska – A 22-year-old University of Nebraska – Lincoln student has been arrested and charged for assaulting a gay man outside a popular gay club on Friday, September 3.  Luke Stevens allegedly harassed a 32-year-old gay man after leaving Lincoln’s Club Q, calling him “derogatory names” concerning his sexual orientation intended to start a fight, according to 1011now.  As the target of the abuse tried to leave his antagonist, Stevens allegedly punched him in the face, and moved in to continue the fight.  A police officer on the scene was drawn to the noise of the altercation, saw the punch thrown, and wrestled Stevens to the ground.  The victim of the assault remains unidentified to the press.  He was treated on the scene and released to return home. “The victim and several witnesses reported that Luke Stevens did not know them,” Officer Katie Flood, spokesperson for the LPD, told reporters. “He started calling them derogatory names based on their sexual orientation.”  Stevens was charged with assault, disturbing the peace, and failure to comply.  Because Nebraska has hate crimes legislation on the books, Stevens may be charged with bias crime, which would make his situation much more grave.  If proven guilty of a hate crime, the enhancement would hike the misdemeanor assault charge to a felony. The Journal Star reports that the Nebraska hate crimes statute covers offenses carried out due to the victim’s “race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability.” Travis Garrett, 19, a friend of Stevens, was also charged with disturbing the peace.  Stevens and Garrett were in Club Q together earlier in the evening, as well as Stevens’s victim.  Witnesses and friends of the accused UNL student say that he is straight.  That evening he was extremely upset at having been turned down by a girl.  The contrast between the response of authorities in Lincoln and a similar anti-gay assault in Greenville, South Carolina three years earlier could not be starker.  Both involved punches thrown at a gay man after verbal anti-gay harassment outside a bar.  But in the case of Sean William Kennedy, 21, who was hit in the face outside Croc’s Bar in Greenville, an upstate South Carolina college town, both the outcome and the legal repercussions were outrageous.  As Unfinished Lives has reported, Kennedy was hit by Steven Moller, an 18-year-old straight man spoiling for a fight with a gay person, in May 2007.  Kennedy fell to the curb, hit his head on the concrete, and died.  Moller was arrested and charged with manslaughter, since the Palmetto State did not have an anti-gay hate crimes law (and still resists passage of such legislation).  While Nebraska police and prosecutors stand ready to investigate the assault in Lincoln as a hate crime, South Carolina officials refused to do so in the Kennedy case, giving Moller (who admitted attacking his victim) every benefit of the doubt.  In the end, with time served, Moller received less of a sentence for killing Sean Kennedy than if he had been found guilty of killing a dog.  For more up-to-date information on Sean Kennedy, see Sean’s Last Wish.  We at Unfinished Lives only wish some of the same conscientious law enforcement had been available to the family and friends of young Sean.  Moller is now a free man for lack of the will to bring anti-gay attackers to justice.  What a difference a hate crimes law makes!

September 6, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Nebraska, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, South Carolina, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lincoln Man Charged with Anti-Gay Hate Crime

Jurors in Teen Gay Murder Trial Imported for “Fairness”

Oxnard, CA – The Los Angeles Times reports that jurors must be imported to Ventura County from Santa Barbara County to insure a fair trial for a teenager accused of shooting his gay classmate to death.  Brandon McInerney, now 16, was 14 in February 2008 when he allegedly shot his gay middle school classmate to death during a morning computer class at E.O. Green School in Oxnard.  According to reports from eyewitnesses, McInerney walked up behind Larry King, 15, an openly gay person of color, aimed a pistol at the back of his head, and shot him twice.  King lingered in hospital with no evidence of brain function, and died some time later.  McInerney was charged with felony murder, and a judge in Ventura County determined he would stand trial as an adult.  Though the youth of the defendant made the ruling controversial, there was enough evidence of planning and premeditation on McInerney’s part that justice demanded he stand trial as an adult.  The pistol he allegedly used belonged to his grandfather.  King was a gender non-conforming boy who wore women’s accessories, used make up, and affected a gay demeanor.  He was living in a youth home because of trouble at home with his parents.  McInerney, who also came from a difficult home life, was said by classmates to be macho and troubled by the openness of King’s sexual identity.  Some claim that King had an obvious crush on McInerney, who took the attention badly.  The case has drawn national attention for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the youth of both boys.  Conservative pundits have argued that the shooting was prompted by King’s aggressive sexualized behavior.  LGBTQ activists have countered that no such evidence exists, and in any case nothing warrants the murder of a femininely presenting youth because of the discomfort of a classmate.  Defense attorneys contended that their client could not receive a fair trial in Ventura County because of the extensive media coverage given the case.  The Santa Barbara Independent reports that Ventura County prosecutors agreed that media saturation made it unlikely they could find an unbiased jury in their jurisdiction, but disagreed that the trial should be moved to another venue as the defense wished.  Instead, jurors from Santa Barbara County will be imported to the trial which will still be held in Ventura County Superior Court.  If McInerney is found guilty of first-degree murder with a hate crime sentence enhancement, he could conceivably be in prison for 53 years to life.

September 3, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, California, gay panic defense, gay teens, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, School and church shootings, trans-panic defense, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Jurors in Teen Gay Murder Trial Imported for “Fairness”

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