Aaron McKinney, found guilty for the murder of Matthew Shepard,
avoided the death penalty. Shepards lawyer agreed to a deal that
McKinneys lawyer proposed giving Aaron McKinney life imprisonment
Aaron McKinney, a 21 year-old drop out and drug dealer, beat openly
gay college student Matthew Shepard and left him to die on the prairie.
Russel Henderson, the first to be convicted for the murder of Matthew
Shepard, pleaded guilty earlier this year. McKinnery was convicted on
November 6th of this year for murder, aggravated robbery and kidnapping
for luring Shepard from a local bar, robbing him of twenty dollars,
lashing him to a fence and cracking his skull with blows from a pistol.
McKinney was sentenced to life in prison without parole and promising
never to appeal his convictions.
I would like nothing better than to see
you die, Mr. McKinney, but now is the time to begin the healing
process. Shepards father, Dennis, said in court. Investigators stated that
the main motive was robbery, but because Shepard was gay he was
singled out. McKinneys lawyer argued that McKinney snapped during a
drunken-drug induced rage after a sexual advance by Shepard triggered
memories of a childhood homosexual assault. Information from past
articles on this case have shown that McKinneys lawyer tried to use a
gay-panic defense stating that it was the action of Shepards sexual
advance that triggered his actions and not because of the fact that Shepard
The gay-panic defense was shot down by District Judge
The father of the murdered stated that this was a hate-crime, pure
and simple, with the added ingredient of robbery. He also asked
Congress to pass a stronger hate-crime law. The statements by Shepards
father shows how hate-crime trials effect the administration of justice
because it shows how there is a greater need for harsher penalties
connected with hate-crimes. It could make the administration think and
ask the question: Should hate-crime offenders have stricter penalties to
face? Questions like this could slow down the trial system making the
expenses of the trial rise. This case could also have a strong effect on our
societies. Cases like this could make people more confident in judicial
system, knowing that people who commit hate-crimes will get harsh
It could also show the criminals in our societies how harsh the
penalties for a hate-crime can be, maybe persuading them not to commit
these crimes at all. A case like this could also make people more scared
because of the fact that there are these kind of people out there that will
commit these kinds of serious crimes. Homosexuals in our societies can
also look at this case as a step forward, showing that a gay-panic or
homosexual-panic defense will not be an excuse for committing a
There are many insights that I have gained by studying this case. The
first being the gay-panic issue. I have learned that today in many states and
courts will not accept this defense as an excuse for an assault or murder.
Another insight that I have learned is how the prosecutor and the defense can
make deals so the criminal will get a less serious punishment.
I have learned
how this case can effect the administration of justice and the people in our
societies in many ways shapes and forms.
Shepards killer to go to prison. Times Union 5 Nov. 1999: A3. .