The Opening of the Matthew Shepard Murder Trial

by Kim Allen

The trial of Aaron McKinney, accused of murdering gay student Matthew Shepard, is just getting underway in Laramie, Wyoming. And it's already a comedy-- or it would be if the subject weren't so tragic.

Defending this case is, shall we say, challenging. Shepard was dragged out to a remote road, chained to a fence, and stabbed 22 times. The prosecution wasted no time in presenting these facts, and the defense even agreed. So, what's there to talk about now?

Well, it seems that the defense wants to claim McKinney was momentarily insane-- so driven by sudden rage that he couldn't control his actions, and ended up killing Shepard. This conveniently reduces the charge to manslaughter, instead of Murder 1. And why do they make this claim? Because Shepard was gay (ooh, let's all pause to suck in our breath), and was making unwanted sexual advances on McKinney. Apparently he "grabbed his groin" and "licked his ear."

So let me get this straight (no pun intended): McKinney and his pals dragged Shepard out to a deserted road after harrassing him at a bar, then tied him up and threatened him with a .357 Magnum. And this put Shepard in such an amorous mood that he tried to come onto McKinney? By licking his ear??

I just have one thing to say. Either the jury will have the sense not to buy this bullshit, and McKinney and his redneck friends will be condemned as the gay-bashing simpletons that they are, or....

... a whole bunch of female rape victims and bar targets are going to have a great precedent to work off of! I mean really, just imagine if it's OK to kill people who are making unwanted sexual advances! (Well, OK, you get charged with manslaughter, but maybe you can get parole pretty quickly if you behave well). So the next time a guy in a bar slides into the stool next to you and places his hand on your thigh, just shoot him. You can claim momentary rage. After all, it is highly offensive to be the target of unwanted sexual advances. And if you're lesbian, the situation matches McKinney's exactly!

It's just sad to see such woefully obvious sham tactics at trials for serious hate crimes. Especially those involving non-heterosexuals, one of the few large groups who still do not share in the freedom of America.

Copyright © 2000 by Kim Allen

02/08/07 at 21:47