Apr 26, 2006

"gay-panic" offense

Mr. G:
I may have accidentally sent an incomplete response, or perhaps the e-mail I was working on disappeared into cyberspace.
The shortened version is this:
I have reviewed your letter, the note and the 20/20 link. I also have reviewed news coverage of the court trial.
One defendant, Russell Henderson, pleaded guilty.
However, Aaron McKinney had a full trial. The trial coverage indicates that the prosecution was not alone in characterizing Shepherd's murder as an anti-gay hate crime. McKinney and his defense team used a "gay-panic" defense, arguing that McKinney had been homosexually abused as a child and snapped when Shepherd allegedly made sexual advances.
McKinney's former girlfriend's testimony also suggested the murder was an anti-gay hate crime. She said McKinney and Henderson plotted to lure Shepherd into their truck by pretending to be gay themselves. She said he later admitted to killing someone.
You no doubt correctly interpreted the thrust of the 20/20 segment, which offered a new version of the motive for the murder. Based on the preponderance of evidence presented under oath at the trial, however, the T&G reporter's characterization of the crime and the editor's note both were on target.
Thanks for your interest,
George R. French
P.S.: If your care to expand on your views on the subject, you might consider logging on to the new "Speakeasy" readers' forum at telegram.com.

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