Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Suspected Murderer of Gay Texan Arrested in Indiana

David James Brown Jr., 22, suspect in the brutal murder of a Texas gay man

David James Brown Jr., 22, suspect in the brutal murder of a Texas gay man

Delphi, Indiana – A prime suspect in the murder of a gay Texan whose body was found near his burned out truck last weekend has been arrested, and awaits extradition back to Texas. Click2Houston.com reports that 22-year-old David James Brown Jr. of Conroe was apprehended and taken into custody on November 17 without resistance by authorities. The Dallas Voice adds that the arrest was made in a CVS Pharmacy parking lot. Brown has been charged with capital murder.

Marc Pourner, 28, was found dead from blunt force trauma to the head in a stand of trees in Montgomery County, Texas on Saturday night. Evidence suggests that Pourner was gagged and bound prior to being bludgeoned to death. His truck was completely burned out near where his body was found. Many, including his father, Mark Pourner, suspected that the crime was motivated by anti-gay bias, and now that an arrest has been made, Mr. Pourner is sticking to his earlier suggestion that his son’s death may indeed have been associated with Marc’s sexual orientation. The Dallas Voice adds that the proximity of young Pourner’s murder to the recent vote in Houston defeating the HERO Ordinance thanks to a heated, heterosexist and transphobic media campaign contributed credence to the anti-gay hate crime speculation on the case.

Marc Pourner's body found in Montgomery County, Texas on Saturday night

Marc Pourner’s body was found in Montgomery County, Texas on Saturday night

Mr. Pourner told Click2Houston, “I’m ecstatic there’s an arrest made. Now I want to be attending a trial and shortly after that I want to be attending an execution.” He went on to say that Brown and his son were only acquaintances, but that he would make no more statements about a motive in the case as long as the investigation was proceeding,  other than his feeling that sexual orientation bias may have played a part in the killing. The family have announced their intention to begin a scholarship benefiting LGBT students in memory of Marc.

Friends, family, and some Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department deputies attended a Wednesday night vigil to share memories of Marc, and to underline their concern for his family and the LGBT community in the Houston metro area, which is currently on alert because of the crime.

According to an article in the Huffington Post, Brown was best friends with Marc Pourner’s boyfriend. Authorities are saying that it is still too early to make a hate crime determination.


November 23, 2015 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bludgeoning, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Houston HERO ordinance, Indiana, LGBTQ, Texas, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Bullycide” Takes Life of Hoosier Teen

Fishers, Indiana – Hundreds of mourners gathered on Monday to remember a 14-year-old Hamilton Southeastern High School freshman whom his parents and friends say took his life in response to incessant bullying. WISH TV News 8 reports that Corey and Natalie Bell, the parents of Jamarcus “Bucko” Bell, who took his own life last Wednesday, want to send a strong message that bullying kills.  The Bells scheduled an emergency conference with the dean of students at Hamilton Southeastern before the suicide of their son because they were alarmed at the extent of the bullying Jamarcus admitted he was enduring at school.  The conference, put off for days, never happened, according to Jamarcus’s parents, who are calling for a full investigation into the bullying situation at HSE.  WTHR News 13 broadcast that the Superintendent of Schools is now speaking out to parents and the press, trying to impress upon the public that the school district “takes bullying very seriously.”  Many students, friends, and alumni of Hamilton Southeastern High, however, aren’t buying what the Superintendent says, since it is too little, too late.  Present and former students of HSE contend that they were bullied in the halls, gym, classrooms, and grounds of the school, and that while school officials and teachers knew about the problems with bullying, they did nothing to prevent it or to protect the targets of the harassment.  In Jamaracus’s case, his parents say that he was bullied from the time the family moved into the school district three years ago.  Corey Bell says that his son was singled out for torment first at Fishers Junior High School, and then this year at HSE.  The most graphic story the Bells are telling is how Jamarcus was bullied in welding class one day last week, when student antagonists threw fragments of steel at the back of Jamarcus’s head.  Student witnesses have corroborated the welding class account, according to Indystar.com.  Jamarcus is remembered as a good student and good friend by his peers.  He was 5′ 8″ tall, and an aspiring baseball player.  His father told the Indianapolis Star that he seldom talked about his troubles: “He shared bits and pieces, but he was more or less trying to hold it in,” Corey Moore said. “He wasn’t confrontational. He wasn’t aggressive. He was good at holding stuff in. We couldn’t tell how bad it was, but he didn’t seclude himself.” Bell is the second high-profile “bullycide” case in Indiana since September.  Last month, the suicide of gay teen Billy Lucas of Greensburg, Indiana, touched off national attention to the issue of anti-LGBTQ bullying in schools.  At the packed memorial service in the Eastern Star Church of Fishers, Jamaracus was remembered with tears and laughter.  He was also remembered by mourners who came from near and far as yet another victim of “bullycide.”  While news stories have not mentioned sexual innuendo or anti-gay slurs as part of the repertoire of Jamarcus’s harassers, such attacks on the masculinity of young teen men is the rule, rather than the exception in cases of school suicide.  Often a complex series of oppressions play a part in the desperate decision of a youth to take his own life–not just anti-gay epithets, but also racial, ethnic, and class factors are commonly found to torment young people as they face daily harassment in a school culture that tolerates bullies but not youth of difference.  At the end of the Monday memorial for Jamarcus, hundreds of multicolored balloons were released in the night air, carrying their memories of the gentle athlete who saw no other way out of his desperate situation in school.

October 26, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Bullying in schools, Condolences, funerals, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Indiana, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ suicide, Racism, Remembrances, Slurs and epithets | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Bullycide” Takes Life of Hoosier Teen

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

Hoosier Gay Man Beaten To Death

Fort Wayne, IN – A gay man described as “a kind and gentle soul” was kicked and beaten to death at a birthday party in Huntertown early on Sunday morning.  Paul Michalik, 36, was found dead on the lawn of Brian Paul Brothers, 34, according to reports on Wane.com.  The Allen County Coroner has ruled that a blow to Michalik’s head was the cause of death.  Michalik, a popular and well liked employee at a local spa and salon, went to the party in the wee hours of Sunday morning at the Brothers’ home with a mutual friend, Jerry Lee Chambers. At some point in the party, Brothers ferociously attacked both Michalik and Chambers for causes that are still under investigation, and while law enforcement officials have not  yet formally charged Brothers in the fatal incident, Chambers says that he attacked them because they were gay.  In what Brothers told police was “an all out altercation,” he admitted hitting Michalik multiple times in the head, face, and body, and kicking him multiple times, as well. In his statement to police, Chambers said that he tried to get Michalik outside the house while Brothers rained punches at his head and face, and delivered blows to his body.  Brothers allegedly turned on Chambers, too, so severely that Chambers had to “play dead” to avoid further injury.  While he was on the floor playing dead, Chambers said that he could hear air expelling from Michalik’s body as Brothers kicked him repeatedly in the ribs.  After Brothers’ rage finally exhausted, Chambers says that he and Brothers carried Michalik’s unresponsive body out on the lawn in the darkness.  Brothers allegedly went back into his house, leaving the dying man on the grass without calling for medical help for either of his victims.  At 4 a.m., police responded to a call from the Huntertown address, and found Chambers wounded and Michalik dead.  Reflecting on the severity of the attack, Dr. Jeannie DeClementi, an assistant professor of psychology at IPFW, and a human rights advocate, told Wane.com, “That’s an enormous amount of rage behind that. That’s pretty incredible. When you put it together with the amount of rage and with the violence of the crime, and you add that up with the fact that the victim is gay, I think you have to consider that [the attack was a hate crime],” said DeClementi. A co-worker of Brothers who attended the party but refused to go on camera said to News 15 that the fight started because Chambers and Michalik kept making homosexual passes at guests, and refused to leave the house. This type of accusation, claiming that the victim of an anti-LGBT hate crime is somehow responsible for the violence visited on him, is called the “gay panic defense,” a tactic that is familiar in hate crimes cases across the nation, but has largely been discredited in courts of law.  Indiana’s News Center has learned that Brothers will be formally charged on Thursday.  He is currently being held without bond on a probation violation charge. Brien McElhatten and Scott Sarvay of the News Center report, “While Indiana has no specific hate crime legislation, President Obama signed a federal law into action in 2009 making criminal acts motivated by sexual orientation a federal crime. However, federal charges will not come into play, because the offender must cross state boundaries in the process of committing the crime, according to Huntington County Prosecutor Amy Richison.” The prosecutor will have to make the determination whether to charge Brothers with a hate crime.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, Bludgeoning, gay men, gay panic defense, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Indiana, Law and Order, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, Stomping and Kicking Violence, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hoosier Gay Man Beaten To Death

Indiana University Breaks Silence on Black Gay Professor’s Murder

Bloomington, IN – After a long silence, the Provost of Indiana University at Bloomington issued an official statement January 11 on the suspected hate killing of black gay professor, Dr. Don Belton, whose body was found stabbed multiple times in the kitchen of his home on December 27.  Critics of the university administration suggested that stony silence about the circumstances of Dr. Belton’s murder was damaging his reputation in an already sensationalized media atmosphere.  An ex-Marine, Michael J. Griffin, 25, has confessed to the crime as revenge for two sexual assaults allegedly perpetrated on him by the 53-year-old African American professor at a Christmas party.  Friends and colleagues of Dr. Belton are working diligently to overthrow this suspicious “gay panic” motive on the grounds that Dr. Belton was never the sort of man to assault anyone.  Griffin is being held without bail in the Monroe County jail awaiting trial.  Dr. Belton’s murder is part of an emerging pattern of hate killings of black gay academics in the United States.  Dr. Lindon Barrett, 46-year-old professor of English and African American Studies at the University of California – Irvine, was strangled to death in 2008.  Dr. Barrett’s alleged killer, Marlon Martinez, 22, was to stand trial in early 2010 for the murder, but was found dead in his Los Angeles County jail cell on Christmas Day.  The Long Beach Press Telegram reports that the cause of Martinez’s death is as yet undetermined. The statement of the provost of IUB is printed here in full:

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

As the campus begins the new semester, we must acknowledge a terrible loss. Some of you may just now be returning to campus after the holidays, and I am very sad to inform you that the Indiana University community lost a dear colleague during the semester break.

Don Belton, a faculty member in the English Department, was slain at his home in Bloomington on December 27. (An arrest has been made in the case.)

In his relatively brief time at IUB, Professor Belton earned the admiration and affection of his colleagues and students.

He was a gifted writer and a highly-valued member of the faculty of our distinguished Creative Writing Program, in the Department of English. He was very well liked and very well-respected. His death is a loss not just to his family and friends, and our academic community, but also to the extended world of arts and letters and to all who value the humanistic traditions. His absence will be profoundly felt.

The murder of Professor Belton has evoked strong emotions throughout the community and indeed the nation. I trust that all members of our community will exhibit tolerance, compassion, and respect in the wake of the loss of a valued
colleague. Let us also show respect for one another and for the many and varied ways in which we express our grief over such a tragedy.

A memorial service to celebrate the life of Professor Belton will take place on Friday January 15, at 5 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Fee Lane in Bloomington.

Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Professor Belton’s family, friends, and colleagues.

Karen Hanson
Provost and Executive Vice President

January 19, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, California, gay men, gay panic defense, Hate Crimes, Indiana, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Media Issues, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, stabbings, Strangulation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Slain Gay Professor’s Friends Denounce ‘Gay Panic Defense’ As Ploy

Prof. Don Belton, Michael Griffin

Bloomington, IN – Hundreds of Bloomington residents braved the cold to attend a vigil honoring the memory of IUB Prof. Don Belton Friday evening at the Monroe County Courthouse.  Friends, colleagues, students, and other citizens stood in silent tribute to the beloved teacher and author who was found dead from multiple stab wounds in his kitchen on December 27.  Speakers denounced the account being circulated in the media that Belton was murdered as retaliation for sexual assault, saying that such a tactic only enflames homophobia and racism, besmirching the reputation of the good and decent man Belton actually was.  A website, Justice for Don Belton, has been launched on the internet to refute the allegations of confessed murderer Michael Griffin, who told police after his arrest that he stabbed the professor to death at his Bloomington home with a military knife because Belton would not “apologize” for their sexual contact at a Christmas party.  The Probable Cause Affidavit may be read in its entirety here. Griffin, who is being held without bail, has pled not guilty to the charge of felony murder.  The creators of the website label Griffin’s confession as a version of the “gay panic defense” which is crassly deployed “to get charges reduced or to win over a jury when the victim was a gay person.”  The post goes on to say, “This is a tactic that has had some success over the years but is increasingly being recognized for what it is: a defense that plays to societal bias and prejudice and is not a justifiable excuse for murder.”  Supporters of Prof. Belton are calling on the Bloomington Police and the District Attorney “to reject any notion that Griffin’s claim of sexual assault weakens their case for murder.”  Another error the site combats is the media notion that Prof. Belton knew ex-Marine Griffin briefly, in a sort of sexually opportunistic way.  In fact, http://www.justicefordonbelton.com argues, Griffin was well-known by the IU English faculty, for whom he and his girlfriend cut grass and did other handyman jobs.  Griffin spoke on more than one occasion with Prof. Belton’s colleagues about how much he and his girlfriend liked the gifted teacher and about their growing friendship.  Griffin’s girlfriend made the call to police that led to her lover’s arrest for the murder.  Robb Stone, writing for the website, concludes, “Reporting or providing sound bites that ‘an incident occurred’ between the men on Christmas Day is not responsible journalism. Don is not here to tell his story. The media needs to be aware that how they report on this story is critical to ensuring that justice is done.  This is not the sensationalized story of a man who had a chance encounter with a random person. This is the story of a promising writer with many friends who was unfortunately betrayed by one of them.”

January 2, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, gay men, gay panic defense, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Indiana, Law and Order, Media Issues, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, stabbings, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Slain Gay Professor’s Friends Denounce ‘Gay Panic Defense’ As Ploy

Gay IUB Professor Stabbed To Death In His Home: Confessed Killer Uses Gay Panic Defense

Griffin (L) and Belton (R), AP photo

Bloomington, IN – Professor Don Belton, 53, a gifted writer and author in the Creative Writing MFA Program at Indiana University-Bloomington, was found murdered in his home on Sunday, December 27.  His body had been stabbed repeatedly in the back and in the side.  A suspect who confessed to the murder has been arrested and charged with murder: Michael Griffin, a 25 year old white Marine who had recently been deployed in Iraq.  Griffin is being held without bail at the Monroe County Jail in Bloomington. Prof. Belton reportedly considered Griffin to be a friend.  According to sources in the university community, Griffin is using a version of the “gay panic defense” to justify his actions.  The suspect alleges that Prof. Belton sexually assaulted  him twice on Christmas Day, and “refused to apologize for it,” according to ABC World News with Diane Sawyer. A faculty source says this is most unlikely.  “We deplore the cowardice of such a claim in the face of the open-heartedness of such a man as Don,” the faculty colleague said.  The Indiana University News Room issued this statement from Provost of the University, Dr. Karen Hanson: “Assistant Professor Don Belton was an important African-American writer specializing in fiction and nonfiction who began teaching at IU Bloomington in fall 2008,” said Provost Karen Hanson. “He was a generous and talented professor who had much potential. We were shocked and saddened by his death.”  The case was cracked when investigators located a note on a 4″x6″ card beside Prof. Belton’s home computer addressed to a person named “Griffin” containing an e-mail address, a phone number, and  directions to the Belton home.  Police worked with officers in Batesville, IN, who informed the Bloomington PD that a girlfriend of Griffin’s had phoned in to say she believed her lover was involved in the murder.  The arrest was made at Griffin’s home, where he lived with his 2-year-old son.  Griffin confessed that he had gone to Belton’s home in his girlfriend’s pickup truck to confront him about the alleged sexual incidents.  When Belton showed no remorse and offered no apology, Griffin said he stabbed Belton “until he quit moving.”  He then stripped from his bloody clothes in the truck, apparently having taken a change of clothes with him.  Griffin said he put the bloody clothes in a plastic trash bag, and threw them in a dumpster.  The knife believed to be the murder weapon, a ten-inch blade issued by the military called a “Peace-keeper,” was found at Griffin’s residence.   A personal journal was discovered at the crime scene with an entry by Prof. Belton indicating that he was grateful that “Michael” had come into his life.  Bloomington police have not made a determination about whether any alleged sexual activity between the two men was consensual or not, but are dealing with the murder as a “crime of anger or passion.”  Though decisively discredited as a courtroom tactic, the “gay panic defense” is often used by killers to explain or defend their lethal actions.  Until confirmation from other sources can be determined, allegations of “sexual assault” need to be treated with suspicion, since the only source claiming such harassment is the suspect in question.  The victim is unable to defend himself against the charge.  Besmirching the character of a deceased gay person is routinely part of the so-called defense, often an attempt to tap into the cultural or religious prejudice against gay men in a community, thereby winning sympathy for the killer.  The interjection of a child and a girlfriend into the news stories also tends to win sympathy for the suspect who may have been essentially heterosexual and then “wandered a bit.”   Prof. Belton was a noted writer, the author of the acclaimed novel, Almost Midnight, and the editor of Speak My Name, an anthology of essays exploring the disparity between real and imagined representations of black male sexuality, according to his faculty web page at IUB.  IU English Department chairman Jonathan Elmer said of his person and his work, “His great talents as a writer, his extraordinary generosity to his students, and his warmth of personality were gifts to us all. We will miss him terribly,” as reported in The Indiana Daily Student.  A community vigil honoring Prof. Belton was held Friday night, January 1 at the Monroe County Courthouse.


January 2, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, gay men, gay panic defense, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Indiana, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Remembrances, stabbings, U.S. Marines, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay IUB Professor Stabbed To Death In His Home: Confessed Killer Uses Gay Panic Defense


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