Monday, October 12, 2009

Matthew Shepard

by Dick Mac

On October 12, 1998, Matthew Shepard died after having been tortured by a couple of homophobic thugs a week earlier on October 6th.

It was not a robbery. It was not a gang-bang. It was not a turf war.

A student at the University of Wyoming, in Laramie, Matthew Sheperd was gay. According to the entry in Wikipedia, he met:

Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson in a bar. McKinney and Henderson offered Shepard a ride in their car. Subsequently, Shepard was robbed, pistol whipped, tortured, tied to a fence in a remote, rural area, and left to die. McKinney and Henderson also found out his address and intended to rob his home. Still tied to the fence, Shepard was discovered 18 hours later by Aaron Kreifels, who initially mistook Shepard for a scarecrow. At the time of discovery, Shepard was still alive, but in a coma.

Shepard suffered fractures to the back of his head and in front of his right ear. He had severe brain stem damage, which affected his body's ability to regulate heart rate, body temperature and other vital functions. There were also about a dozen small lacerations around his head, face and neck. His injuries were deemed too severe for doctors to operate. Shepard never regained consciousness and remained on full life support. As he lay in intensive care, candlelight vigils were held by the people of Laramie.

He was pronounced dead at 12:53 A.M. on October 12, 1998, at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins. Police arrested McKinney and Henderson shortly thereafter, finding the bloody gun as well as the victim's shoes and wallet in their truck.
References in original article at

Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson killed Shepherd because he was gay. I remember being sickened - literally - when I read that the murderers killed him because he allegedly made sexual advances towards on or both of them.

Can you imagine if every man who made a sexual advance to another person was murdered?

My greatest fear at the time, is that this defense would work; that they would be found not guilty due to temporary insanity because they panicked when confronted with the thought of sex with another man. Eventually, Henderson cut a deal, pleaded guilty, and received two consecutive life sentence. McKinney went to trial and was found guilty. While the jury deliberated about the death penalty, Shepherd's parents brokered a deal to spare McKinney's life and he was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.

In spite of the efforts by so-called "conservatives" and the media that drive their movement, elected officials continue to work to pass hate crimes legislation.

Now is the time for you to tell your friends, family, and elected officials that you believe that homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgender people deserve equal protection under the law.

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