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    September 13, 2007

    Straight-washing a hate crime

    Posted by: Chris

    Nicolekelsaycourtroom A third guilty plea was entered yesterday in the brutal murder of 18-year-old Scotty Joe Weaver, in Bay Minette, Ala. Prosecutors say he was beaten, cut, strangled and burned beyond recognition in July 2004 part because he is gay.

    Yesterday, lifelong "friend" Nicole Kelsay, 21, received a 20-year sentence but will be eligible for parole in six. Earlier Christopher Gaines pleaded guilty to capital murder and got life without parole, and Robert Gaines also pleaded guilty for his role and got consecutive life sentences. The facts of the case are bone-chilling. Scottie lived with the three people responsible for his death and had even been there for Nicole in the past when she needed help.

    According to Baldwin County District Attorney David Whetstone, Weaver was robbed of less than $100, then beaten, strangled, stabbed, cut, partially decapitated and set on fire. Whetstone has said the brutal nature of the murder "is suggestive of overkill, which is not something you see in a regular robbery and murder," and that there is "not a doubt in my mind" that Weaver's sexual orientation played a part in his murder.

    An August 2004 report by Laura Douglas-Brown of Southern Voice offered a bit more detail:

    A coroner’s report revealed Weaver was “beaten, strangled, stabbed, cut and burned,” sustaining injuries to his neck, torso, and “some other parts of the body that I won’t describe, but I will say they were curious,” Whetstone said.

    Scottyweaverblog_2 A local TV news report this week about Kelsay's guilty plea did an excellent job of showing the devastating impact of the horrible crime on Martha Weaver, Scotty's mother. WKRG's Debbie Williams reports:

    For the first time since the ordeal began Martha Weaver addressed the court and specifically Kelsay. Afterwards her questions were still unanswered. "Why did she do it? Why did she plot to hurt him like that?

    Alabamans are left to wonder the answer to that question becuase the WKRG report (video available here) leaves out any mention of the anti-gay motivation that might cause so-called friends to act with such brutality to score $100.

    Also omitted was any mention of the fact that Alabama has no hate crime law, or that a federal hate crime law passed the House earlier this year and a vote is expected soon in the U.S. Senate. There's no excuse for sanitizing hate from such a brutal crime, especially when Alabamans clearly need reminding of the vicious price of homophobia. Laura did a much better job of putting things in context for SoVo readers:

    Alabama was one of only 13 states with a sodomy statute on the books when the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated such laws in 2003. A year earlier, then-Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore denounced homosexuality as “an inherent evil and an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it” in a legal opinion denying a lesbian mother custody of her three teenage children.

    Attempts to add sexual orientation to Alabama’s hate crimes law have failed repeatedly. Meanwhile, the Southern Poverty Law Center has criticized the state for failing to report apparent hate crimes to the FBI, including the 1999 murder of gay Sylacauga resident Billy Jack Gaither.

    Charles Monroe Butler Jr., 21, and Steven Eric Mullins, 25, were convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole for the Feb. 19, 1999, death of Gaither, 39. Gaither’s attackers beat him to death with an ax handle, then burned his body atop a pyre of kerosene-soaked tires on a rural creek bank.

    Debbiewilliams I think Debbie Williams needs to hear from us that straight-washing hate crimes does a terrible disservice to the victim, to other members of that minority group, and plays a part in perpetuating a culture of hate.

    For a complete news summary of anti-gay hate crimes, click or bookmark: http://gaynewswatch.com/hatecrimes

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    Comments

    1. Sean on Sep 14, 2007 2:08:21 AM:

      There is no doubt that the murder of Scotty Weaver was a hate crime. The brutal nature of the killing is indicitive of a hate crime. The reporters should be ashamed of themselves in covering up facts.

      READ THIS!!!

      http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:qDGxkFhnWrsJ:www.chronline.org/PDFs/Express%252010-2005%2520Article.pdf+gay+inequality+police&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=44&gl=us

    1. Double T on Sep 14, 2007 12:36:24 PM:

      It amazes that the American people expect people like the Sunnis’ and Shiites’ to learn to live next to each other in peace. Yet Americans can beat each other to death over how we express love.

      Then, in my opinion, news organizations/police/local government become accomplices after the fact, to these crimes by denying or diminishing that a crime has occurred.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 14, 2007 4:38:46 PM:

      And why am I supposed to care?

      After all, the two people actually involved in the killing got life without parole and consecutive life sentences; the third was sentenced to twenty years in prison. Doesn't sound like anyone denied or diminished the crime to me; indeed, it sounds like justice was served.

      Furthermore, look at how they're treating Scotty Joe Weaver's death the same as they would that of anyone else who was brutally assaulted in such a manner -- by focusing on what was done.

      It amuses me, Chris, to watch someone insist that gays just want "equality" and to be treated "the same" as anyone else -- and then get pissed off because a crime against a gay person WAS treated equally and reported equally, without any special treatment given because the victim was gay.

      Are you really interested in justice being served on this case and fair journalism being carried out? Or is your interest in how best you can exploit this to "prove" your belief that the people of Alabama are homophobic?

    1. Double T on Sep 14, 2007 6:03:42 PM:

      NDT, you missed the point. The reason for the killing never came out. So later, when the voters of AL go to vote for/against laws relating to the gay community, they simiply say, "if there was a problem, I would have read about it in the newspaper".

      You see nothing wrong in playing down the truth?

      AND, if Alabama is such a wonderland of human rights, why play down the story in the first place?

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 14, 2007 6:43:53 PM:

      The truth is, Double T, that regardless of who or what Scotty Joe Weaver was, the jury and the judge punished his attackers to the full extent of the law. They prosecuted and punished the assault and brutal killing of a gay man in exactly the same fashion as they would a straight man.

      In other words, they treated him equally, just like you're always CLAIMING you want.

      And now you're whining that equality in treatment was wrong and not good enough.

    1. Double T on Sep 14, 2007 7:37:59 PM:

      NDT, I didn’t mean to imply that they were not equally punished. I meant, that the public is not properly informed as to the WHY this crime happen.

      Without this information the public can not make informed decisions.

      Example, in my hometown 30 years ago, DUI deaths were never reported by the press or recorded by the police. They didn’t want to hurt the family’s feelings. But without the public getting an accurate view, they could not see that there was a problem AND act to correct the problem.

      My problem is that someone can be KILLED in the this country for being GAY and the press won’t properly report it.

    1. Citizen Crain on Sep 14, 2007 11:24:09 PM:

      I think you're off-base here, NDT, on both the law and (as Double T points out) on the bigger social picture. If you honestly believe the punishments they received (life without parole, 2 consecutive life sentences eligible for parole in 12-15 years, and life sentence eligible for parole in 6-8 years), well then you're not very familiar with the American criminal justice system. There are more severe punishments available to all three defendants.

      No doubt if they were terrorists, you'd be yelling with the rest to throw the max at them. Well they are terrorists -- social terrorists -- intending through an incredibly brutal crime to send a message of fear to other gays in the area that is analogous to the message Al Qaeda sends with its attacks.

      And even if they actually had received the maximum punishment, "equal treatment" would mean telling the public about all the motivations behind the crime -- not quoting the crying mom asking "Why?" when homophobia at least partially answers why.

      If a straight person were killed for being straight, or a black person for being black, or a woman for being a woman, the media would be all over that angle -- as well they should be. That's why this was a "straight-washing," worthy of attention and reaction.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 16, 2007 3:34:23 PM:

      "My problem is that someone can be KILLED in the this country for being GAY and the press won’t properly report it."

      People are killed in this country for all sorts of reasons.

      My main concern is that those who kill people are punished, as happened in this case.

      Your primary concern seems to be how you can best co-opt this person's death to push your agenda.

      "There are more severe punishments available to all three defendants."

      Of course there are -- which is why all three of them ended up pleading guilty in order to avoid the worst.

      ( http://www.al.com/news/press-register/index.ssf?/base/news/1178011082281830.xml&coll=3&thispage=1 )

      "A week before his trial was set to begin, Christopher Gaines pleaded guilty Monday to capital murder in the 2004 slaying of Scotty Joe Weaver, a north Baldwin teenager prosecutors allege was killed, in part, because he was gay.

      Gaines, 22, will likely spend the rest of his life in prison without the chance of parole. The plea means he will be spared the death penalty, but his lawyers wouldn't say whether he'd become a witness against his two co-defendants."

      And as far as "sending a message" goes, I think the message sent here is this: "No matter who you are, no matter who you kill, we WILL enforce the law equally."

      Which, in my honest opinion, is all we should care about.

      Again, if you want to co-opt this death for your crusade, I suppose I can't stop you; however, I think you should be aware of the fact that it makes a mockery of your "we only want 'equal treatment' argument".

      Because you got equal treatment -- and it wasn't good enough.

    1. Double T on Sep 16, 2007 5:00:26 PM:

      NDT, how can you say there was equal justice? The way the press reports it, you can't even be sure what the crime was. Hello? I'm not asking for extra or special treatment. I'm asking for HONEST TREATMENT. And I'm not the one who co-opt a death for my secret agenda of surpressing the truth.
      I merely want the whole story, you got a problem with that?
      Who's asking for "special treatment" now?

      And it seems to have slipped by you, two crimes were committed. One against the individual, one against society.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 17, 2007 9:55:37 PM:

      "The way the press reports it, you can't even be sure what the crime was."

      Sure I can. The crime was brutally beating and killing a man.

      All three of the defendants pled guilty to charges that earned them multiple years in prison, multiple life sentences, and life without parole to avoid WORSE punishment, including the death penalty.

      Sounds pretty equal and truthful to me.

      But actually, Crain spilled the beans on what this is all about on his more recent post; you just want to rant and "prove" how all Alabamans are intolerant homophobes and make fun of their religious beliefs.

    1. Richard on Jul 16, 2010 5:35:54 AM:

      Though I would’ve loved it much more if you added a relevant video or at least pictures to back up the explanation, I still thought that your write-up quite helpful. It’s usually hard to make a complicated matter seem very easy. I enjoy your web log

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