- OCTOBER 12 - #RememberMatthewShepard
- Greetings --
- Please read and kindly retweet so the story of Matthew Shepard is never forgotten and made known to those unaware of this vicious crime of hate.
- On October 6, 1998 Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney went to a Laramie, Wyoming gay bar where they (while pretending to be gay themselves) met and lured University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard to their truck.
- The two attackers, McKinney and Henderson, then took Matthew, 21 years old and weighing just over 100 pounds, to a remote spot outside of town and tied his naked body to a wooden fence, tortured him, pistol-whipped him and left him in the freezing cold.
- So badly beaten was he that when his mutilated body was discovered 18 hours later it was initially thought to be a scarecrow. It was reported that he was beaten so brutally that his face was completely covered in blood, except where it had been partially washed clean by his tears
- Matthew suffered fractures to the back of his head and in front of his right ear. He experienced severe brainstem damage, and there were also about a dozen small lacerations around his head, face, and neck. His injuries were deemed too severe for doctors to operate.
- Matthew never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at 12:53 a.m. on October 12, 1998.
- After beating and torturing Matthew the attackers, Henderson and McKinney, went on to attack two Latino youths later that same evening, beating and pistol-whipping them.
- To avoid a death sentence, Russell Henderson pleaded guilty to kidnapping and murder in April 1999 and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
- Later that year, Aaron McKinney attempted to use a "gay panic" defense at his own trial, claiming that Matthew Shepard's advances disgusted him. When McKinney sought to introduce evidence that a man had molested him as a child, Judge Barton Voigt would not allow it. He ruled that the defense was too similar to temporary insanity, which is not an option in Wyoming.
- McKinney was convicted of Shepard's murder but managed to escape the death penalty largely due to Shepard's parents. In the tense and quiet courtroom, Dennis Shepard told his son's murderer, "I would like nothing better than to see you die, Mr. McKinney. However, this is the time to begin the healing process. To show mercy to someone who refused to show any mercy." McKinney was sentenced to life in prison.
- Henderson's and McKinney's girlfriends, who had helped Henderson and McKinney dispose of evidence, were charged as accessories to the murder.
- Matthew Shepard's death sparked national outrage and renewed calls for extending hate crime laws to cover violence based on a person's sexual orientation. President Clinton implored Congress to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in the wake of the incident.
- In October 2009, the United States Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (commonly the "Matthew Shepard Act" or "Shepard/Byrd Act" for short), and on October 28, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law.
a guest Oct 12th, 2014 994 Never
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