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    June 12, 2007

    Matthew Shepard all over again?

    Posted by: Chris

    Hall_king1 Coleman King, 18, in front in stripes, and Garrett Gray, 19, behind, are claiming 'gay panic' caused them to brutally beat to death Shorty Hall, 35, in Crothersville, Ind.

    A reader of Gay News Watch submitted a story from an alternative newspaper in Bloomington, Ind., that we should all do our part to spread the word about. A young, slightly built man was brutally beaten to death on April 12 because, his suspected assailants claim, he made a pass at one of them.

    The shocking murder of Aaron Hall, known by his friends as "Shorty," and the use of the so-called "gay panic" defense by those charged in his murder, have yet to attract media attention from bigger newspapers in Indiana, much less outside the state.  It is incumbent on all of us to make sure it is investigated as a possible hate crime and, if confirmed, Americans see the violent result of homophobia.

    Reporter Steven Higgs of the Bloomington Alternative lays out the facts:

    The simple facts in Shorty Hall's murder shout major media. … The 1998 hate-crime murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming is commonly invoked in comparison.

    Thirty-five-year-old, 5-foot-4, 100-pound Aaron Hall was brutally beaten on April 12 for hours by two teens who have described the murder in chilling detail to police. Each says Hall precipitated the violence by making a homosexual suggestion.

    The beatings included repeated pummelings with fists and boots and dragging Hall down a wooden staircase by his feet as "his head bounced down all of the steps," in one of the accused's words. He died naked and alone, in a field, where he had crawled after his killers dumped his body in a roadside ditch.

    Police found Hall's body 10 days after his death wrapped in a tarp in the garage of Jackson County Deputy Coroner Terry Gray, whose son is one of the accused.

    The Crothersville Times has more, quoted by Higgs:

    "King said they were all drinking beer and whiskey when Hall grabbed him in the groin, asking King to perform oral sex. King said he punched Hall, then jumped on him, punching him several more times. King said Gray also punched Hall while King held Hall down."

    Gray said King left the room after initially assaulting Hall. Gray said he walked over to ask Hall if he was all right. "Gray then admitted to striking Hall several times in the eye area causing significant damage," the Times reported.

    Gray told police that King walked back into the room and moved Hall to the couch. "According to Gray, King then straddled Hall and began physically assaulting him multiple times with his hands," the paper said. Hendricks said the beatings "went on for several hours before Hall was loaded into Gray's pickup."

    Before dragging Hall down the steps to Gray's Ford Ranger pickup, Gray said they assaulted him again on the deck. King said he and Gray "continued beating Hall as Hendricks drove south to the dirt farm lane." There they dumped Hall in a ditch and threw his camouflage coat over his body.

    "King admitted to striking Hall a few more times," the Times said. "The trio then left Hall in the ditch."

    The cold-hearted brutality of the murder is truly shocking.  One of those allegedly involved is said to have even sent a text message photo to a friend that showed the beating victim between two of his attackers, almost as a hunting trophy.

    There is some question about whether the victim, Aaron Hall, was actually gay or whether his alleged attackers are counting on homophobia to stigmatize the victim and hopefully lessen their punishment.  Regardless, gay rights groups, the gay media, the blogosphere and the media generally need to pay attention to this case to make sure it is investigated properly -- including the possibility that it was an anti-gay hate crime.

    For a full report on recent crimes investigated or determined to be motivated by anti-gay hate, visit the Gay News Watch summary here.

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    Comments

    1. Maureen on Jun 13, 2007 1:06:38 AM:

      "There is some question about whether the victim, Aaron Hall, was actually gay..."

      I think this is one of the things that bother me about hate-crime legislation. Whether he was gay or not, or whether he even made a gesture that was interpreted as a homosexual advance, the horrible consequences are the same and their punishment should be severe. No doubt you have heard about the white couple murdered by a group of black people several months ago in a heinous act. All the conservative newsies and bloggers are screaming about that being a hate crime. And maybe it was borne of hate. But what if it were an act of violence committed by people on drugs? Does it make it worse or not as serious?

      I'm willing to listen to arguments and have my mind changed.

      For the record, anyone who uses a "gay panic" defense should be shot right there in the courtroom. It just simply should not be allowed.

    1. Sean on Jun 13, 2007 8:57:57 AM:

      Truly heinous. There is NO DOUBT in my mind that the killers believed he was gay (whether he was or not). I've read reports from many gay hate crimes and the brutality is astonishing. This fits in line with a gay hate crime. They need to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

      I truly feel sorry for Aaron and those that loved him.

    1. Michael on Jun 13, 2007 12:21:59 PM:

      In kalmazoo a man was was beaten to death. with a stone the murders came to made sure they finish the job. Yet the killers walked away using the Gay Panic defends. That was almost 30 years ago but even then it was unbelievable that there was almost no news courage. More courage was given to protestors after the murder then about the killing. I am determine to never let that happen again. I'll do everything I can to publicize his death.

    1. Jason Rigsby on Jun 13, 2007 5:07:12 PM:

      Give me a break. Why would a gay guy hit on some straight teen boys in the first place? Was he a pedo? Look at what the homo-militant community is doing to Tyler Whitney. Just because he wants to work for a Republican, Tom Tancredo, the fag nazis want to demonize him. The gay community need to learn some respect for those of faith with wholesome values. You can be queer, but still live a clean life and not flaunt it. I respect true individuals like Tyler Whitney who don't fall in line with the perverted gay agenda like the pedophile in the news story. As far as I'm concerned, he got what was coming to him.

    1. Citizen Crain on Jun 13, 2007 5:56:24 PM:

      Maureen: Most hate crime laws cover crimes against people because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, race, religion etc. The argument for the crime is the broader societal impact it has; just like an act of terrorism has a broader impact than a similar act committed for money etc. So the fact that the basher was wrong about his victim doesn't lessen the offense.

      Jason: What can I say? The idea that you would be so over-the-top nasty and immature makes somewhat hilarious your wish that gays would learn respect for "faith and wholesome values." Exactly which faith and what wholesome value calls people "fag nazis" and says a brutal murder victim "got what was coming to him."

    1. Maureen on Jun 13, 2007 8:40:01 PM:

      Chris, if you are still reading, is there a website or blog that discusses hate-crime law in layman's language and gives examples? There perhaps is a disconnect between my lone objection to it and what it genuinely intends. Thanks.

    1. Sean on Jun 14, 2007 1:03:05 PM:

      What a nice individual Jason is. You need to learn respect of humanity. Want the death of another human being and in the same paragraph flaunting your supposed "wholesome values". Give me a break.

      Lastly IF Aaron did hit on one of these two (which I highly doubt) it wouldn't be pedophilia since they are 18 and 19 and it doesn't justify his murder. Period. Get that through your skull.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Jun 15, 2007 3:39:15 AM:

      In an oblique and hateful fashion, Jason has a point; it's very hard for us to argue that he should be more "tolerant" when, over on gay blogs like JoeMyGod, Pam's House Blend, Americablog, The Stranger, and The Gist, gays are posting Tyler Whitney's home address and phone number, his PARENTS' home address and phone number, and making ominous threats about how he should be "made to bleed" and to suffer.

      As far as "getting what's coming to you", even if the sexual advance described happened, any gay man can tell you what to do; you laugh and walk away. There simply is no reason to kill someone over something like that, and anyone who would do so, much less in such a brutal fashion, is a danger to society.

      Finally, this is a horrible example to use for the "we need a hate crimes law" argument.

      One, it's being investigated and prosecuted quite nicely without Federal intervention -- which was supposed to be the actual point of said law.

      Two, the general consensus is that the victim was not gay and that the accusations that he was were made under the assumption that it would rationalize their actions -- which, as the article points out, not even the townspeople are buying.

      The need of gays to latch on to a case that is having no trouble being prosecuted or investigated for a person for whom we're not even sure was gay and for whom the "gay panic" defense is obviously having no effect whatsoever looks rather desperate.

      Especially, going back to the first point, when gays are making threats of violence and death against other gays for being "wrong" to them politically.

    1. antony on Jun 24, 2007 10:58:54 PM:

      If you want more information about the Hate Crimes Bill, you can visit http://www.hatecrimesbill.org. The site also includes the Aaron Hall murder.

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