Mathew Shepard Case Brief Essay

This essay has a total of 896 words and 4 pages.

Mathew Shepard Case Brief

Matthew Shepard Case Brief

Facts: Twenty one year old, University of Wyoming college student, Matthew Shepard, died
October 12, 1998 at 12:53 a.m. after spending five days in a comma due to massive injuries
and head trauma in a robbery and hate crime assault (Matthew Shepard, 2000 [on-line]).
Matthew Shepard met Aaron McKinney (22) and Russell Henderson (21) of Laramie in a local
bar called Fireside Lounge. McKinney and Henderson had been drinking. The two led Shepard
to believe they were gay and lured Shepard to their truck. McKinney pulled out a gun and
said, Guess what- we're not gay and you're gonna get jacked. McKinney then told Shepard to
give him his wallet. When Shepard refused, McKinney hit him with the gun. With Henderson
behind the wheel, McKinney continued to strike Shepard. McKinney then told Henderson to
get a rope out of the truck. McKinney allegedly tied Shepard's beaten body to a wooden
split-rail post fence, robbed him of his wallet and patent leather shoes, continued to
beat him and left him to die for over 18 hours. Chasity Vera Pasley (20) and Krista Lean
Price (18), the suspect's girlfriends, hid the bloody shoes of Henderson and provided the
suspects with alibis. Shepard's shoes, coat and credit card were found in McKinney's
pick-up truck; his wallet was found in McKinney's home. A .357 Magnum was also found in
McKinney's home (Matthew Shepard, 2000 [on-line]).

On April 5, 1999, 22 year old, Aaron McKinney was found guilty of felony murder,
second-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery. 21 year old, Russell Henderson pled guilty
to kidnapping and felony murder and was sentenced to two consecutive life terms. Two women
described as the suspects girlfriends, Chasity Vera Pasley (20) and Krista Lean Price (18)
were charged as accessories after the fact of first-degree murder (The Data Lounge, Issues
2000, [on-line]).

Issues: Aaron James McKinney seemed to believe that his allegation that Shepard had made a
pass at him was sufficient grounds to justify joining with friend Russell Henderson in
savagely beating Shepard, clubbing him with a handgun, lashing him to a wooden fence and
leaving him to die. McKinney's attorney wanted the jury to accept that because McKinney
has a homosexual encounter when he was younger and that he was under the influence of both
drugs and alcohol when he alleges Shepard made a pass at him, that he was therefore not
responsible for his actions. The theory was that the combination of those factors created
a "gay panic" within McKinney, meaning that it amplified McKinney's own homophobia
combined with a self-loathing fear that he might be gay and that it was this combination
which created rage sufficient to result in the death of Matthew Shepard (Gay/Lesbian
Issues, 2000, [on-line]). Henderson wished to change his plea. He agreed to plead guilty
to kidnapping and to felony murder with robbery as the underlying cause (Cullen, Dave,
1999, [on-line]).

Decision: In regards to McKinney, the judge ruled that the defense was not admissible
because, in a limited ruling, that the defense constituted a form of "diminished
capacity," or "temporary insanity," defenses which are not valid under Wyoming law
Continues for 2 more pages >>