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A slap on the wrist for killing a gay man


Rick Munroe
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Community service and "anger management classes" for viciously murdering another person? This is why we need the Matthew Shepard Act passed.

 

From Sean's Last Wish (http://www.seanslastwish.org):

 

[blockquote]Greenville, SC -Stephen Moller, who murdered Sean William Kennedy on May 16th 2007, was sentenced June 11th to a 5 year suspended sentence to 3 years with 3 years probation after he gets out of jail. He will spend approx. 10 months in jail. After which he is then entitled to parole. If granted he will be on probation for 3 years. He was also sentenced to 30 days community service and ordered to take anger management classes. In addition he was ordered to have alcohol and drug counseling.

 

What happened-A Mother's Story

 

On May 16, 2007, at about 3:45 am, Sean was leaving a local bar in Greenville when a car pulled up beside him, a young man got out of the car, came around the car approached my son and called him fagot and then punched him so hard that it broke his face bones, he fell back and hit the asphalt. This resulted in his brain to be separated from his brain stem and ricochet in his head. Sean never had a chance. Sean’s killer got back into the car and left my son dying there.

A little later he left a message on one of the girl’s phone, who knew Sean saying: “You tell your fagot friend that when he wakes up he owes me $500 for my broken hand”.

 

Sean knew at an early age that he was different. He did not let others know until he was about 17 years old and in high school. One day, after he had just told a few of his friends that he was gay, he came out of school to find the word “Fag” carved into the side of his truck. He was mad and it shock him up but I think it was then that he decided that he would not live in fear - he was going to live life and be there for others.

 

After that he told me that he was gay. He said: Mom if you don’t want to love me any more, I’ll understand. I told him that there is nothing he could ever do to make me stop loving him.

 

I can’t help but remember my son as a person who had a love for life and people and an irresistible smile to go with his personality. Sean loved everybody regardless of whom or what they believed in or stood for. He never judged but was always there to help people, either by listening or giving them whatever they needed (food, a place to stay, clothes, etc)

 

After his death I found out just how many people Sean had a positive impact on. There were over 700 people at his memorial service.

He was a leader, kind and non-judging, caring and compassionate and loved by so many. He was happy of who he was and stood up for what he believed in. He had reached all the dreams and hopes this mother could ask for and he accomplished this in only 20 years.

 

Elke Kennedy (Sean’s Mother) [/blockquote]

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Guest zipperzone

The passage of the Matthew Shepherd Act may help assure the murderers get their due but it will not begin to reach the root of the problem.

 

Hoping this comment will not get this moved to the Politics & Religion forum, I want to say that until the so-called Christians are made to realise that their view of homosexuality is wrong, and until a change of government keeps homophobic leaders from promoting homophobia, nothing much is going to change.

 

If what is being said about gays was still being said about blacks, blood would be flowing on the streets.

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From the website:

 

"One of Sean’s last gifts was the gift of life. By donating his vital organs, Sean helped save the lives of 5 people. We hope that his loss will bring positive light into people’s hearts and he can continue to help people through his death as he did in his life. We hope you learn from Sean’s life and take him with you throughout your life experiences."

 

I agree, let's not make this an issue of politics. Let's make it about "This has to change.".

 

Daddy

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I'd love to see a transcript of this trial because this sentence doesn't make much sense in the context of what was written here.

 

Also, before you go blaming "Christians" for all the evil in the world you might want to think if you'd prefer to live under Orthodox Judaism or any sort of Islamist regime. You might then get a taste of what real "hatred" is all about.

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I think we can all agree with this. But laws don't change hearts and will do little to ease any pain. Education, acceptance, and tolerance is a start.

 

And, sadly, before one can get acceptance and tolerance you have to show it to others. And it seems that many in "our" community are among the most intolerant when it comes to people who disagree with them. Name-calling -- on both sides -- doesn't help and doesn't lead to acceptance. Demonizing your opponents will not get you tolerance and no law will help that.

 

Anyone have any ideas on that one?

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Here are some additional articles. Of interest is they indicate the crime was investigated by the FBI as well as local law enforcment, there were several witnesses to the crime and that no evidence was presented at the hearing to contradict the defendant's statement that he didn't know Sean was gay when he punched him.

 

 

http://www.wyff4.com/news/16570947/detail.html

 

http://www.greenvilleonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080611/NEWS06/80611025/1001/NEWS

 

http://buckleofthebiblebelt.blogspot.com/2007/05/note-to-greenville-sc.html

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Guest TBinCHI

>I think we can all agree with this. But laws don't change

>hearts and will do little to ease any pain. Education,

>acceptance, and tolerance is a start.

>

>And, sadly, before one can get acceptance and tolerance you

>have to show it to others. And it seems that many in

>"our" community are among the most intolerant when

>it comes to people who disagree with them. Name-calling -- on

>both sides -- doesn't help and doesn't lead to acceptance.

>Demonizing your opponents will not get you tolerance and no

>law will help that.

>

>Anyone have any ideas on that one?

 

Yes, how about if you start? It is my personal opinion that you are one of the most intolerant people on here, but I will engage in tolerance and not say anything further about you. Especially because I agree with the point that you are making here.

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Well, you just made my point. Thank you. Sad. Name-calling. And you want acceptance from the majority of the straight community? Not gonna happen if you continue this sort of thing.

 

I looked up this case in the Greenville News and it is much different than what has been presented here ...

 

Mr. Moller is not a murderer. He pled guilty to "involuntary manslaughter" which is not murder by any definition of the law. The prosecutor offered this after a grand jury found "no malicious intent" and would not "indict on a murder charge."

 

The article goes on to state that "no evidence was presented that Moller knew or acknowledged Kennedy's homosexuality before the assault." You cannot have a "hate crime" absent that.

 

Mr. Moller received 3 years in prison -- 5 years was the maximum.

 

Also, the description above of how the crime occurred is not accurate. Mr. Moller was in a car and Mr. Kennedy came over to that car and reached inside to hug one of the girls in the car. Apparently he reached in a cigarette and Moller thought he brushed against him. He was drunk and punched him and he fell.

 

It was then that a friend of Moller's saw Kennedy bleeding and he said to Moller "you know that guy is gay don't you? you might have AIDS."

 

That's when Moller left the drunken message on the answering machine.

 

Sounds like an immature drunk 18 year old. A hate crime? I just don't think so.

 

It sounds more like a freak accident caused by too much drinking that had tragic and fatal results. But as an example of a "hate crime" it just really doesn't play out that way despite the grieved mother's attempt to make it a cause.

 

Sounds like it was a sad deal all around. But I think context is far more important than making political and emotional points.

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One can understand a mother's grief and it sometimes causes you to say things that you want to believe but that aren't true.

 

Her first paragraph describing what happened is simply untrue. If you do some research and check out the articles and the evidence at trial it simply isn't an accurate description of what happened. Yelling "faggot" is just as incendiary as yelling "####" and that hooks you into her story. Sadly, that word was never used according to the evidence presented at trial.

 

But it is often a way to inflame people and that's the effect here.

 

Mr. Moller got almost exactly what the law prescribed for the crime for which he was convicted. This was not murder. This was not the killing of a gay man. This was a drunken punch -- one punch -- that went horribly wrong with tragic results for all concerned. Under no definition of the law is that considered murder.

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>Well, you just made my point. Thank you. Sad. Name-calling.

 

LOL Name-calling is defined as "verbal abuse." He merely said you were intolerant. OMG, this abusive language has to stop. :p

 

>And you want acceptance from the majority of the straight

>community? Not gonna happen if you continue this sort of

>thing.

 

LOL Yes, if anonymous poster "ariadne1880" is described as "intolerant" by another anonymous poster on an escort message board, it will really affect the progress of gay rights. :+ Btw, you have brought up this whole "you want to be accepted by straight society" argument many times, but I've never seen anyone else talk about it except you. I think it's your issue, but not anyone else's on this board.

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Guest zipperzone

>Also, before you go blaming "Christians" for all the

>evil in the world you might want to think if you'd prefer to

>live under Orthodox Judaism or any sort of Islamist regime.

>You might then get a taste of what real "hatred" is

>all about.

 

I didn't go about blaming "Christians". I was blaming "So-called Christians". There is a world of difference in case you haven't noticed.

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RE: Judge and jury, and he wasn't even there!

 

We have a 20 year old kid with no record who threw one single punch. A grand jury found no malicious intent, and he was offered a plea agreement by the prosecutor to involuntary manslaughter.

 

If Rick Munroe is unhappy with this, he can work to change the laws. But gay people lose credibility with the courts when they scream bias and demand punishment that does not fit the crime.

 

Hate crime legislation has been a total failure. Courts and juries pay little attention to it, and I know of no criminal ever deterred by it. Prosecutors use it a a political sop to aggrieved communities to make it look like they care. Yet they keep getting bit on the butt because aggrieved communities demand a hate crime allegation even where it can't be proven.

 

Proving a person's state of mind in committing a crime has been enrichment to defense attorneys forever.

 

As pointed out elsewhere in this thread, the solution is not going to be legislated. We literally have to win the "hearts and minds" of the community to change atttitudes towards gays. I don't think we do that when we try to ruin one kid's life because of a single punch. It's the judge's job to determine if the kid can be rehabilitated, and I think that's a good thing.

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RE: Judge and jury, and he wasn't even there!

 

>If Rick Munroe is unhappy with this, he can work to change the

>laws.

 

Rick Munroe appreciates the advice and Rick Munroe will certainly take it to heart. Btw, one way to "change hearts and minds" is to elect representatives who are not homophobic.

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  • 4 weeks later...

As I mentioned earlier, it is very hard to get a hate crime conviction. Here is a case from San Francisco where the prosecutor filed that allegation and actually took it to trial. He won! The jury convicted on the hate crime as well as the underlying crime.

 

But then, as usual, the judge disregarded it. All of that work for nothing,. Lawyers, cops, jurors, probation officers and court clerks used up for days on a trial and the judge does nothing. He said the behavior was very dangerous and chilling, but then released the man.

 

From the SF Chronicle:

 

 

Wiesel tormentor must seek mental health care

 

Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writer

 

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

 

 

(08-18) 18:23 PDT SAN FRANCISCO --

 

A San Francisco judge on Monday sentenced a troubled New Jersey man convicted of tormenting Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel to the equivalent of time already served, but ordered him to get mental health treatment while on parole.

Images

 

A jury found Eric Hunt, 24, guilty last month of a hate crime, felony false imprisonment and two misdemeanors in the Feb. 1, 2007, incident at the Argent Hotel that prosecutors had said was a hate-based attempt to persuade Wiesel to renounce the Holocaust.

 

The now 79-year-old peace activist and Nobel laureate testified during the trial about how Hunt rode up an elevator with him and yanked him out on the sixth floor, insisting that he had to interview him. Once outside the elevator, Wiesel said, he called for help and Hunt froze before eventually walking off.

 

Judge Robert Dondero said the case was "arguably overcharged" by prosecutors and sentenced Hunt to a two-year prison term - time he had already spent in jail given good behavior credit since his arrest soon after the incident - along with four years on parole.

 

Dondero noted that Hunt will live with a relative and must seek mental health treatment when he returns to New Jersey.

 

The prosecution portrayed Hunt as an anti-Semitic stalker bent on getting Wiesel to say the Holocaust was a lie.

 

Prosecutor Alan Kennedy told Dondero that Hunt should be sentenced to the maximum of three years, saying that Hunt showed hatred before he displayed mental problems.

 

Years before the incident, Kennedy argued, there was a "deviant, destructive and racist side to Mr. Hunt's personality" and during the incident, he was "intolerant, anti-Semitic and frankly, despising of Dr. Wiesel and everything he stands for."

 

Hunt himself then read a letter addressed to Wiesel in court, repeatedly apologizing for what he did and explaining that he suffered a "severe mental breakdown."

 

"I had been sucked into anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on the Internet" that deny the Holocaust, he said. "I do not deny the Holocaust. I am not Nazi, racist, white supremacist or anti-Semite. I have tremendous remorse for scaring you."

 

Bringing up a "racist rant" he wrote on an Internet site five days after accosting Wiesel, Hunt said: "I don't believe any of that garbage now that I'm taking my medication."

 

Hunt's attorney, John Runfola, said his client was in a delusional state caused by bipolar disorder when he followed Wiesel across the country - an expedition financed by a $10,000 inheritance from his grandmother.

 

Dondero said Hunt's terrorizing of Wiesel was unacceptable behavior, but emphasized that his mental illness was the cause.

 

Hunt's action were "very, very dangerous and chilling" Dondero said. At the same time, Dondero said, the "court is very much aware that Mr. Hunt has a substantial, acute mental problem."

 

Dondero then addressed Hunt directly, saying, "the court expects you - I want to be very clear, you have got to maintain mental health treatment - this type of behavior cannot be allowed to happen again."

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