Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Wisconsin Queer Bashing Suspects Face Trial; Gay Panic Excuse Put to Test

PJ's Bar, Oshkosh, scene of brutal Christmas Day queer bashing (Facebook image)

Oshkosh, Wisconsin – Two suspects arrested in the bashing of a gay man outside a gay bar on Christmas Day will go to trial, according to reports from WTAQ News Talk.   Lyall Ziebell and Jacob “Jake” Immel-Rhode, both 20, waived their preliminary hearings on January 5. Ziebell entered no plea, and will face arraignment on January 12. Immel-Rhode pled not guilty to all charges, and is due back in court for a pre-trial conference on February 1. The alleged attackers are charged with battery causing great bodily harm, and burglary.  The battery charge for both men also carried a hate crime modifier, which increases the penalties for the crimes, if found guilty. If the maximum penalty is invoked, each man could serve 23-and-a-half years in prison and face $40,000 in fines.

The police complaint states that Immel-Rhode and Ziebell agreed to give a cigarette to the victim in exchange for a shot of liquor at PJ’s bar on Oregon Street in Oshkosh just before 2 a.m. on Christmas Day.  When the three men came out of the bar to smoke, the attack started almost immediately.  Ziebell, who characterized himself as “very homophobic,” hit the victim so hard he collapsed on a car hood, and then fell to the pavement, where Immel-Rhode set upon him, kicking the helpless man while shouting that he was a “stupid faggot.” The alleged assailants excused their actions because they say the victim “tried to hit on” Ziebell who threw the first punch. The complaint further states that the pair robbed a Mexican market on the way home to Ziebell’s house, stealing money and pre-paid cell phones.

The victim suffered a broken jaw and injury to his brain from the brutal attack, and underwent emergency surgery.  He was then admitted to Intensive Care.  Recently, he was released from the hospital to recuperate at home, and to deal with the emotional trauma of the assault.

The Wisconsin Gazette reports that James Combs, a friend of the victim, has started a petition on Change.org calling attention to the hate crime, and urging Winnebago County Assistant D.A. Adam Levine, Democratic State Senator Jessica King, and others in authority to make sure justice is done in this case, including pursuit of hate crimes charges.  The petition can be accessed by clicking here. Combs told the Gazette, “We really need to draw attention to this kind of thing. People have not really grown accustomed to gay people, and there is still violence and horrible things happening.”  He also said that a fund to help pay the victim’s hospital expenses is being set up.

Among the most important aspects of this case is the gay panic excuse the attackers gave for their violence against a gay man. In the gay panic defense, alleged homophobic assailants rely upon latent negative feelings in the general public to cloud the issue of the crime, and to lessen popular anger at their deeds.  The illogic of the gay panic excuse turns justice on its head: the victim is put under the spotlight, insinuating that he or she was somehow responsible or “had it coming” when violence is perpetrated against them. In its more extreme forms, the innuendo implies that the victims actually went out seeking punishment for their “perverse lifestyle.” When used in court, as by all indications will be done in this case, defense attorneys count on anti-gay prejudice buried in jurors to buy acquittal or a lesser sentence for their clients. Sadly, this has worked in the recent past in American courts, an amazing outcome in the 21st century. James Combs says in the narrative for the Change.org petition,  Hate Crime Tolerance in Wisconsin, “We need to let lawmakers know that Gay Panic Defense will never fly as an excuse, and any jury would agree. Let’s make sure they receive the full sentence.”

The gay panic defense is a discredited, out-of-date, and outworn attempt to sully the character of LGBTQ victims of hate crimes, and to obstruct justice.  No victim deserves physical attacks for being gay or lesbian in the United States of America. Neither should any victim of an anti-gay hate crime face the burden of emotional distress and public shame by having his character brought into question–an irrelevant point in cases such as these. For defendants to present such a “justification” for their actions in an American courtroom should, by itself, increase the penalty of law for false accusation.

January 8, 2012 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, gay bashing, gay men, gay panic defense, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Wisconsin | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gay Filipino Teen Drenched with Boiling Water–By His Own Father

Edmund Padilla in pain from scalding water attack by his own father--just because he was gay (video capture).

The Philippines – A 19-year-old gay youth from the Northern Philippines who came out to his family was attacked by his own father with a pot full of boiling water–because his father didn’t like the news.  Edmund Padilla suffered severe burns and blisters over much of his body as a consequence of the scalding water assault, according to Queerty, which broke the story in the United States. The Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch (PLHCW) reports that Padilla’s father, Erano, has been taken into custody as the investigation proceeds.

Erano Padilla, the assailant, was allegedly drunk when he threw the boiling water on his son.  The elder Padilla told authorities that he was enraged by the news that Edmund was gay.  Huffington Post reports that Edmund was the third child in the family who has self-identified as gay. The case is complicated by the age of the victim, and the absence of anti-gay hate crimes protections for Filipinos.  Since Edmund is over 18, national and United Nations child protection statutes may not apply to him.  The horrifying, homophobic attack has stirred the nation to come to a better understanding of its LGBTQ citizens, especially its youth.

Queerty published the statement of PLHCW spokesperson, Reighben Labilles:

“We plead to the government to initiate proactive programs that provides parents and LGBT children the opportunities to promote freedom of expression of sexuality and gender… We are born this way and you cannot punish us to change our sexuality. We fear that so many violent acts perpetrated by parents and legal guardians against their LGBT children go unreported. It is so urgent for Congress to find ways to protect sons and daughters of whatever age from family-based violence.”

There is no word as yet on the whereabouts of Edmund’s two gay siblings.  The PLHCW has embedded a video of the story on its blogsite, without English subtitles, which may be accessed here.  Be warned! The video of Edmund in agony is graphic and disturbing.

January 6, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, gay teens, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Phillipines, Queerty.com, Social Justice Advocacy, United Nations | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gay Panic Murder of Homeless Disabled Man in Connecticut

Matthew O'Brien-Veader, on trial for the brutal murder of a homeless disabled man he believed made a sexual advance toward him.

Waterbury, Connecticut – Police officials say that a Waterbury man savagely murdered a homeless disabled man living in the same abandoned factory because of an alleged sexual advance.  Matthew O’Brien-Veader, 23, took shelter in the derelict warehouse along with his alleged victim, 39-year-old Joed Olivera, in June 2009.  During his sleep, O’Brien-Veader believed that the older disabled man attempted to have sex with him, and flew into a homophobic rage, according to the Republican American. Police arrested O’Brien-Veader June 12, 2009, and charged him with the grisly murder. He was bound over for trial in superior court, which finally began in Waterbury this week after a series of delays.

Court documents say that O’Brien-Veader attempted to throw Olivera down a flight of stairs, beat Olivera with his own pair of crutches until they shattered, and then repeatedly stabbed him with a dagger before throwing Olivera’s body through a jagged hole in the floor to the room below.  Others in the factory found Olivera’s body atop a jagged pile of junk, covered with a piece of plywood. One man who saw the mangled body of the homeless victim was so disturbed by the scene that he testified in in Waterbury Superior Court Tuesday to running out of the building and smoking marijuana to calm his nerves. O’Brien-Veader’s friend, Jason Benoit, testified that O’Brien-Veader had a deep aversion to LGBTQ people, and had told him that all gay people should be rounded up and dropped on a deserted island. According to the Hartford Courant, the defendant could receive a life sentence if found guilty.

O’Brien-Veader sat quietly beside his attorney as the case, postponed until over two years after the homicide, unfolded in the Waterbury courtroom. By invoking the gay panic defense, suggesting that the victim was responsible for his own murder, the defense hopes to cloud the minds of jurors enough to lighten the sentence, should their client be found guilty.  The recent King-McInerney gay killing in Oxnard, California gave the gay panic defense new life in American courts.  Defense attorneys for McInerney, a teen who confessed to the execution-style shooting of his teenaged gay classmate, Larry King, in front of a room full of witnesses, argued that unwanted sexual advances pushed McInerney to pull the trigger.  The ploy succeeded in reducing the conviction from murder to manslaughter.  O’Brien-Veader’s defense team is hoping that enough residual heterosexism and homophobia exists in jurors to bring a similar result for their client.

January 5, 2012 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, Connecticut, gay panic defense, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, stabbings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Skinheads Attack California Gay Men in New Year’s Hate Crime

Gay bashing in progress by Santa Barbara Skinheads on New Year's morning (video capture)

Santa Barbara, California – Three skinheads attacked a gay couple as they left a New Year’s Eve event early Sunday in Santa Barbara, according to the Santa Barbara Independent. The savage assault was captured on video, which the police are using in their hunt for the perpetrators. The Daily Sound reports that the three suspects are all in their 20s, are white males, and sport shaved heads.  As the two gay men left a party at a nightclub, headed toward their parked car, the three assailants called out derogatory anti-gay slurs, and then attacked.  One of the victims suffered a broken jaw, and needed staples to close a deep gash in his scalp. The second victim escaped with minor injuries.

Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez pledged to find and arrest the attackers, calling the assault a “hate crime.” Chief Sanchez said, “Hate crimes like these will not be tolerated and those responsible will be held accountable.” This horrific attack is one more indicator that hate crimes against gay people do not take a holiday–ever.

January 4, 2012 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-Gay Hate Groups, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, California, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gay Panic Excuse Used to Justify Wisconsin Queer Bashing

Queer bashing suspects Jason "Jake" Immel-Rhode (l), and Lyall B. Ziebell (r)

Oshkosh, Wisconsin – Christmas morning erupted in anti-gay violence when two Oshkosh men allegedly assaulted a gay man outside a popular tavern patronized by LGBT people, calling the victim “a stupid faggot” while kicking him in the head. According to The Northwestern.com, Lyall B. Ziebell and Jason “Jake” Immel-Rhode, both 20, were charged with battery causing great bodily harm with a hate crime enhancement which will increase the penalties against the men, if found guilty.  With the hate crime rider, the men could serve as much as  23 years, six months in prison and face $40,000 in fines for the crime.

The criminal complaint states that Ziebell and Immel-Rhode were walking past PJ’s Bar on Oregon Street at approximately 2:15 a.m. on December 25 when the victim offered to buy them a shot of liquor apiece if they would lend him a cigarette.  The three men walked into the bar where the victim made good on his offer for the cigarette.  After finishing their drinks, the three went outside the bar where the assault began almost immediately.  WTAQ reports that the victim suffered a broken jaw and a brain injury from the savage attack.  The criminal complaint also states that the attackers left the scene of the assault to head to Ziebell’s home, and on the way they robbed a Mexican market of cash and pre-paid cell phones. The victim has no doubt, however, that the violence used against him was a response to his being a gay man.

The Northwestern goes on to report that Ziebell admitted to police that he was “very homophobic,” and commenced his assault on the victim when he allegedly “began to hit on me”–clearly a reference to the notorious gay panic defense often invoked in gay bashing trials to suggest that the victim was to blame for the injury done him.  Ziebell also said to police that he heard Immel-Rhode shout that the victim was “a stupid faggot” as he kicked him repeatedly in the head.

Court officials ordered Ziebell and Immel-Rhode bound over to Winnebago County Jail, where they are being held on a minimal bail of $3,000 apiece.  They are to go to court for preliminary hearings on January 5.

December 29, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Stomping and Kicking Violence, Wisconsin | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Plea Deal for Larry King’s Murderer: The Inside Story

Brandon McInerney pled guilty to the execution-style murder of his gay teen classmate, Larry Fobes King.

Ventura County, California – Prosecutors in the Brandon McInerney murder trail agreed to a plea deal rather than take young gay Larry King’s confessed killer into court a second time, according to EDGE Boston.  McInerney, 14 at the time he shot his 15-year-old gay classmate in the back of the skull in his middle school computer class in 2008, will be sentenced today.

The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office agreed to a deal because they couldn’t be sure what would happen if they put McInerney back on trial again.

McInerney’s defense team succeeded in putting King on trial for his own murder, at least enough so that the jury in the first trial could not agree on a verdict, and a mistrial was declared.  While legal experts saw the case as a clear-cut instance of pre-meditated murder, the prosecutors for Ventura County could not surmount the sympathy factor for the 14-year-old, and the discomfort factor in the way the press and the defense portrayed King.  Instead of the forthright homophobic murder the prosecution sought, a combination of child-nostalgia and anti-transgender and anti-gay bias turned King into a “Franken-Larry,” a devious, dangerous homosexual predator–a portrayal that could not have been further from the truth about the real boy who was in transition from a scared, bullied gay school kid to a youth who could affirm and live out his gender variance.

Media distortion in the King case started as early as the first reports about the murder, with sensational accounts of what young King wore to school, and his responses to McInerney’s bullying.  Ramin Satoodeh, reporter for Newsweek, wrote a cover story on King that was devastating–likening the boy to a monstrous little predator, tottering after his love interests in platform heels.  McInerney’s defense lawyers countered prosecution evidence of his Neo-Nazi and white supremacist motives by casting King, who was smaller and weaker than McInerney, as the aggressor, and skillfully used the press to drive this point home.  The California law making a 14-year-old prosecutable as an adult in heinous cases using firearms (which this case was in both particulars) was also put on trial in the media.

In the end, justice for Larry King was not the goal of a chastised district attorney’s office.  Assistant DA Mike Frawley said that they “took into consideration the time [McInerney would have to spend] in jail to protect the community.”  McInerney’s murder conviction has been stayed, and he will be sentenced to 11 years for voluntary manslaugher, and 10 years for the use of a firearm. With the four years he has already served in jail, McInerney will serve 25 years total.  Had the first-degree murder conviction been impose, he would have served 51 years.  Now, the confessed murderer of a young gay boy will be out on the street by his 39th birthday, and the dubious “gay panic defense” receives new life in the American legal system.

December 19, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Bullying in schools, California, gay bashing, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Media Issues, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacy, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, School and church shootings, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alleged Butcher of Richard Hernandez Wins Mistrial for Meds Excuse

Seth Winder

Denton, Texas – For the second time in a history of delays and postponements, Richard Hernandez’s alleged murderer was ruled “incompetent to stand trial” on November 18 by a Denton County judge.  Seth Winder, 31, was ruled unable to assist in his own defense by District Judge Bruce McFarling after an examination finding him either unmedicated for his diagnosed mental impairment, or insufficiently dosed, according to the Crime Blog of the Dallas Morning News.  Winder exhibited nearly catatonic behavior during the third day of the trial–evidencing that he had received none of his prescribed drugs for his schizophrenia, or that he had been spitting out and hiding his nighttime dosages, perhaps for weeks before the trial began. No explanation was given for how Winder could have been considered fit for trial on November 16, but zombie-like two days later.  Neither was there an explanation of how jailers and med staff at the Denton County Jail could have so woefully neglected to make sure their smart-though-impaired inmate took his meds as directed and actually swallowed them.

Instead of completing the trial process for the gruesome murder and dismemberment of the openly gay Dallasite, Winder was sent to the North Texas State Hospital in Vernon for treatment.  The Dallas Observer speculates that Winder may not ever face trial again for the Silence-0f-the-Lambs-style butchery of  38-year-old Hernandez, whose body was never found–save for his internal organs left in the bathtub of his Far North Dallas apartment in September 2008.  This marks a second instance that Winder was found unfit to stand trial because of mental issues, the first being in May 2009.  Observer reporter Brantley Hargrove found legal opinion divided on whether the Colony resident will have another day in court.  Winder’s Defense Attorney, Derek Adame, says he seriously doubts another trial will take place. Denton County Assistant District Attorney Cary Piel, however, believes Winder will face judge and jury again, probably in April 2012.

Winder stands accused of murdering Hernandez in the gay man’s apartment, though the reasons for their relationship remain murky.  Both the Morning News and the Observer repeated the unproven allegation that the victim and his supposed killer were gay lovers.  Hernandez’s best friend, Rudy Araiza, has staunchly denied the possibility that Winder and Hernandez were ever “lovers,” and makes that point again in a blog response to the Dallas Morning News allegation. “Richard and Seth were ‘Never’ boyfriends!” Araiza said. “I’m not sure why this newspaper is making that statement, I knew Richard for 22 years, I would know!”  It may be another instance in which a grisly anti-gay hate crime is toned down for public consumption by partially blaming the victim for his own demise.  Media around the country have a notorious record for succumbing to this sensationalist temptation.  Investigators said they found pornographic pictures of Winder on the cell phone he lifted from the Hernandez apartment, though no proof has been offered of who took the images, or what they actually depict.

Although the murder weapon was never found, police did retrieve a sword stained with Hernandez’s blood in the tent where Winder was living. Detectives say that Winder used the sword to cut up the gay man’s body.  The dismembered parts of the victim were probably disposed of in a nearby dumpster, and then buried under tons of garbage in a landfill, making the body impossible to locate.  Winder’s use of Hernandez’s credit cards led police to arrest him.  Witnesses placed Winder in Hernandez’s apartment complex at or near the time of the gay man’s disappearance. Forensics found that the blood stains on Winder’s clothing and shoes were a genetic match to the victim.

So, Seth Winder, either crazy like a fox, or a neglected patient (or both), has avoided the jury again.  Meanwhile, Richard Hernandez, who in death cannot answer the innuendo against his character, receives no justice.  The eerie quiet throughout North Texas surrounding this latest trial development in one of the most heinous crime cases in Dallas history seems to confirm  that many have an investment in hushing the whole thing up. Which would not be the first time such a thing has happened in Texas when it comes to violence against the LGBTQ community.

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Decapitation and dismemberment, Evisceration, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Media Issues, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Alleged Butcher of Richard Hernandez Wins Mistrial for Meds Excuse

Gay Baptist Preacher Calls on Churches to Repent of Anti-Gay Attitudes

Rev. Dr. Stephen Sprinkle speaking to a rally at the University of Toledo (Toledo Blade Photo).

Toledo, Ohio – An ordained gay Baptist minister has called upon churches to change their anti-gay attitudes and language.  Dallas Baptist preacher and theologian, Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, speaking to a packed house at the University of Toledo last month, said that the notion Christianity and the Bible are considered irreconcilably anti-gay by many in contemporary churches is simply wrong. Citing Dr. Peter Gomes, the late chaplain of Harvard, Sprinkle said that the biblical teachings on hospitality to those who have been deliberately excluded by society, “the poor, the discriminated against, people of color, women, homosexuals, and all persons beyond the conventional definition of Western civilization,” is far more significant than the few misinterpreted Bible texts used to condemn LGBTQ people.  Sprinkle went on to note that Christianity arose in the cosmopolitan world of the Greeks and the Romans, who in the main were tolerant of same-gender-loving people for much of the classical age.  When taken as a whole, the early churches exhibited very little concern about what we today call “homosexuality.”  “Homosexuality,” Sprinkle said, “is not mentioned in the Top Ten [Commandments], and is not in the message of any of the Prophets.”

The Republic reports that Sprinkle was invited to speak at a rally sponsored by Equality Toledo in response to the so-called “billboard wars” over LGBTQ acceptance in the Toledo church community.  A progressive United Methodist congregation put up a large billboard on a well-traveled street in April proclaiming that “Gays Are a Gift From God.”  An evangelical mega church responded by buying up space on nine huge billboards around the city rebutting the Methodist claim with the slogan “Gays Are NOT a Gift From God.”  Sprinkle, a professor at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, and Theologian in Residence at Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ, the largest LGBTQ predominant congregation in the world located in Dallas, is a widely-sought speaker and teacher.  His most recent book, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Resource Publications, 2011), is an anthology of stories of people murdered for their sexual orientation and gender identity, most of whom were killed by people who claimed justification from the Bible and church teachings. He is the founder of the Unfinished Lives Project, and the web master of http://unfinishedlivesblog.com, a blog seeking to remember the victims of hate crimes violence in the United States.

November 28, 2011 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Being Gay is a Gift From God Campaign, Brite Divinity School, Cathedral of Hope, Central United Methodist Church Toledo, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Homosexuality and the Bible, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Ohio, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Baptist Preacher Calls on Churches to Repent of Anti-Gay Attitudes

McInerney Pleads Guilty to 2nd-Degree Murder for Executing Larry King

Brandon McInerney executed his gay classmate in February 2008.

Ventura County, California – The teen killer of a gay classmate has pleaded guilty second-degree murder.  Brandon McInerney, 17, 14-years-old at the time he pulled the trigger, shot gay 15-year-old Larry King in the back of the head execution-style at E.O Green Middle School in Oxnard, California in February 2008 before the eyes of his first-period classmates.  The facts of the case are undisputed.  Rising behind his victim, McInerney pumped two rounds into the back of Larry King’s skull, fulfilling a threat he made to a girlfriend at school the day before.  McInerney will receive a 21-year sentence for a crime that many say bears all the hallmarks of a pre-meditated, first-degree hate crime murder.

In September of this year, a mistrial was declared after two months of testimony, due to the inability of the jury to come to a decision about the guilt of young McInerney.  Prosecutors had argued for first-degree murder, based on the established pre-meditation and the heinous nature of the crime.  Under California law, a 14-year-old may be tried as an adult, and McInerney, who confessed to the murder seemed to fit the statute’s requirements. Prosecutors claimed that because of McInerney’s antipathy toward King’s sexual orientation and gender expression, and because of white supremacist loyalties the killer clearly embraced, the murder was a clear-cut case of anti-LGBT hate crime.  Defense turned the tables on the prosecution, putting the dead victim on trial instead of their client.  They resurrected the infamous “gay panic/trans panic” defense, drumming their contention into the jurors’ minds that King was the prime aggressor, pressing his flamboyant sexuality toward McInerney until he “snapped.”  Enough of the jury bought the ploy that the jury hung. Had the first-degree charge been upheld, the defendant would have received 53 years for his crime.

The Advocate reports that formal sentencing will take place for McInerney on December 19. Twenty-one years in prison is a long time for McInerney to consider that every day he lives is another he stole from a gay classmate because of his discomfort with a person who was different. For the LGBTQ community, the specter of the “gay panic defense,” like a hungry ghost, lingers on, given new energy by this plea deal.

November 22, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-Gay Hate Groups, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, California, Character assassination, gay panic defense, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacy, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, School and church shootings, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on McInerney Pleads Guilty to 2nd-Degree Murder for Executing Larry King

Gay Murder/Dismemberment Trial Gets Underway Today in North Texas

Richard Hernandez, victim, and Seth Winder, the accused (l to r; Dallas Voice image)

Dallas, Texas – After three years of delays and postponements, the trial of the accused murderer of openly gay Richard Hernandez begins today.  The Dallas Voice, doing great journalistic work on this difficult case, announced the story on November 10, quoting first assistant Denton County district attorney Jamie Beck on the trial delays, “Everybody wants a swifter and quicker justice, but you’ve got to do it right. Bottom line, we want justice, so if that means it takes a while, then so be it.”

The “Silence of the Lambs” style murder of 38-year-old Hernandez, an employee of Walmart, drew national press attention in September 2008 when the victim’s viscera but no body was discovered in an apartment in far North Dallas.  When Hernandez, a conscientious employee, did not report for work, his friends prevailed on the apartment superintendent to open his residence, and what they found resembled a slaughterhouse.  Copious amounts of blood spattered the walls.  Hernandez’s body was never found, but tissue from it was left, dumped in the bathtub.  Dallas Police acted quickly to track down the killer. True Crime reported that the DPD filed capital murder charges against Seth Winder, 29, a homeless man with a history of erratic behavior and mental illness, even though they did not have possession of a body in the case–only the third time in thirty years of police department history.

Winder was located because of credit card charges he made to Hernandez’s stolen cards after the murder date.  Police apprehended Winder in a tent inThe Colony, where he was in possession of personal items of the victim and a bloody sword that may have been used in the dismemberment.  The Dallas Voice reports the police conclusion that the killer disposed of the body in a trash dumpster which was emptied in a landfill, making Hernandez’s remains unrecoverable.

Winder’s competence to stand trial was hotly contested in the earlier days of the case.  His father and stepmother told the press that their son was a schizophrenic who had once tried to strangle his own mother.  Friends of Hernandez contended that Winder was just clever enough to play ill in order to avoid responsibility for the grisly murder.  The whole stew was made nastier by the report of police investigators that they discovered a digital camera belonging to Hernandez with “pornographic images” of Winder. The victim’s friends and family vigorously denied the implication that Hernandez and Winder were in a sexual relationship. In the end, Winder was ruled incompetent to stand trial.

Hernandez’s mother will not be there today to see if justice will be done for her son.  She died with the story unresolved, thanks in part to a strategy of delays put in place by Winder’s legal defense team, and to the untimely publication of a book on the murder authored by Winder’s own stepmother.

Now, after years of treatment, authorities say Seth Winder is able to face his day in court.  Jury selection has begun, and barring other delays, three years of agonized waiting are about to conclude for Richard Hernandez’s friends and remaining family.

November 14, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, capital punishment, Decapitation and dismemberment, Evisceration, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

%d bloggers like this: