Hate crime in Indiana? | The Bloomington Alternative

Hate crime in Indiana? | The Bloomington Alternative:
Hate crime in Indiana?
by Steven Higgs
June 6, 2007

The simple facts in Shorty Hall’s murder shout major media. Brian Williams or Katie Couric, maybe. Bill Moyers, someday. Indianapolis Star, unquestionably.

The 1998 hate-crime murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming is commonly invoked in comparison.

Thirty-five-year-old, 5-foot-4, 100-pound Aaron Hall was brutally beaten on April 12 for hours by two teens who have described the murder in chilling detail to police. Each says Hall precipitated the violence by making a homosexual suggestion.

The beatings included repeated pummelings with fists and boots and dragging Hall down a wooden staircase by his feet as “his head bounced down all of the steps,” in one of the accused’s words. He died naked and alone, in a field, where he had crawled after his killers dumped his body in a roadside ditch.

Police found Hall’s body 10 days after his death wrapped in a tarp in the garage of Jackson County Deputy Coroner Terry Gray, whose son is one of the accused.

According to the local paper, The Crothersville Times, a witness said 19-year-old Garrett Gray, upon learning that Hall was dead, “began vomiting and making statements of what his dad would say when he found out about this incident.”

The fact that this tale has received almost no media attention outside Jackson County, Monroe’s far southeast-corner neighbor, is but one of its bizarre twists.

Another is the suggestion that Hall made no sexual advance on 18-year-old Coleman King, the other accused, that he and Gray made up the story as an excuse for murder.

There’s a legal theory for their argument. It’s called the “gay panic defense,” and it suggests that temporary insanity from exposure to homosexuality is a defense against murder. Matthew Shepard’s killers tried to use it.

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