Crime | Indiana | News

Indiana Hate Crime Ignored as Killers Prepare 'Gay Panic' Defense

It's a crime that seems to have been virtually ignored by the media. It took place on April 12th in Crothersville, Indiana, a small town halfway between Indianapolis and Lousiville.

ColemankingDailyKos reports: "Two young men in Jackson County Indiana said they were so freaked out when 'propositioned' by Aaron Hall on April 12th, that they proceeded to beat the 100 pound, 5'4 man for hours, using their fists, boots, dragging him down a staircase while his head slammed into each step, and then throwing him in a ditch and leaving. Aaron managed to crawl out of the ditch and out into a nearby field, where he died, alone and naked."

The sole paper to report on the crime, The Bloomington Alternative, reported that "[19-year-old Garrett] Gray (in stripes, behind), [18-year-old] Coleman [King] (center) and others, including 21-year-old Robert Hendricks and uncharged co-conspirator John Hodge, told police remarkably similar stories about a violent reaction to a homosexual advance in Gray's Crothersville home, according to court documents filed by police in the case."

CrothersvilleThe paper also notes the media's deafening silence:

"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."

Indiana Bloggers are questioning the media's inaction as well.

Give the Bloomington Alternative piece a read. This story needs more attention.

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  1. Sick fucks. Well, add Indiana to the list of states I'll never live in.

    Is there no one to save us?

    Posted by: shane | Jun 13, 2007 10:12:02 AM

  2. This is where blogs like yours become so important. Someone has to bring events like this to the attention of the public. If the mainstream media is afraid to touch issues like this, someone needs to bring it to the light of day and not let it go unnoticed.

    P.S. Would someone introduce legislation to ban the 'gay panic' defense? Not only is it a bunch of horse shit, it's incredibly insulting. The idea that gay people are so repulsive that perceived contact with us is an excuse to murder is beyond reprehensible. If anyone ever used that to kill any other ethnic group they'd instantly be labeled a bigot and tossed in jail without question. Who says we don't need the protection of hate crime laws when we are faced with this?

    Posted by: MT | Jun 13, 2007 10:13:17 AM

  3. They punched, kicked, beat him for hours and dragged him down some stairs then left him in a ditch to die.

    Yeah! Sounds like "Gay Panic" to me. O.o

    First, we all know how well that defense worked for the Shepherd murder case. So this means it is going to work better in Indiana?
    Second, no "sane" court is going to accept that kind of treatment to any person. This is considered "cruel and unusal punishment." The 8Th Ammendment should send those boys to prison for a very long time.
    Third, the fact that the people in Indiana managed to keep this so quiet for so long in apalling. I guess "Freedom of the Press" only works if you are straight.
    One more gay man dead. Jerry Fallwell is laughing in Hell right now.


    Posted by: PJ | Jun 13, 2007 10:24:45 AM

  4. Thanks for bringing this up Andy. I hate to be a conspiracy theorist, but with the big vote on the gay inclusive federal Hate Crimes bill approaching (with Bush's threatened veto), it's quite possible the national media doesn't want this affecting the vote.

    Posted by: beergoggles | Jun 13, 2007 10:26:10 AM

  5. So, next time a girl hits on me, I think I will drag her off of the subway car and bang her head on each concrete step. When she's pretty much dead-I'll strip her down and let her crawl to central park to fully die. Is this called "straight panic"?

    Posted by: bigggnasty | Jun 13, 2007 10:29:03 AM

  6. "Gay panic" is as retarded as the homophobes, killers and attorneys who try to use it as something legitimate.

    I'm struggling to keep my waist small and sexy as I approach 40. If a fat lady offers me a doughnut, can I kill her in a bout of "fat panic"?

    I find religious conservatives to be assholes hell-bent on ruining my life as a gay man. If one tries to convert me on the street, can I kill him in a bout of "bullshit panic"?

    Posted by: Jake | Jun 13, 2007 10:43:52 AM

  7. The flight response from a panic stress situation in humans is far greater than the fight response. The fight response is geneticaly triggered when there is no ability to flee.

    True gay panic would have triggered these guys running in the opposite direction to get away, not spend hours with him touching him via punches and kicks.

    Posted by: anon | Jun 13, 2007 10:47:06 AM

  8. As Indiana's largest LGBTQ blog, we haven't covered this story either for one simple reason... It's not a hate crime. A couple local blogs have tried to stir everyone up in our community about this, but it just hasn't worked.

    The reasoning is simple. Aaron Hall wasn't gay - as everyone will confirm. While the killers tried to use "gay panic" to start with, no one has bought the story and the truth has started to come out. Instead, all of the young men were drunk and the dead man insulted one of the killers' deceased mother. Two of them started beating Aaron for the slur while the other watched and helped dump the body.

    Sadly, this is just another example of something that happens around the nation - a senseless murder. But as a state that's been working very hard to pass hate crimes legislation (and came damn close this year finally), stories like this only help the right wing. Since it's not really a hate crime (unless beating young, white, straight men to death is a hate crime), this example will be used over and over again in our state as a reason why we shouldn't have hate crimes legislation - "They'll try to use it for everything!"

    Is it a gruesome story? Yes. Is it a hate crime against a gay man? No.

    PS - The Indianapolis Star hasn't covered the story because their circulation doesn't go that far south. They cover mostly central Indiana - not southern Indiana.

    Posted by: Bil Browning | Jun 13, 2007 11:12:05 AM

  9. Um, why was murdered guy naked?

    Posted by: Anderson | Jun 13, 2007 11:14:11 AM

  10. southern indiana hill jacks. inbred, backwoods, mullet wearin, coors light drinkin, govt cheese eatin, 4x4_dually_quad cab_with the calvin sticker drivin, old_couch_on_the_porch sittin, bowlin alley hangin, cow shit flingin, grade repeatin, gots me a double wide, waste of human space!

    Posted by: vince | Jun 13, 2007 11:24:43 AM

  11. I sent a link to the Bloomington article to all the news agencies in Denver. Stating

    Have you covered this story? If not...why???

    Not to be cynical, but it does have to do with murder, and you guys seem to like that.

    Lets see what response I get in return.

    Posted by: Brandon | Jun 13, 2007 12:14:57 PM

  12. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Andy. Don't let up. Keep this top-of-page until other gay media outlets pick it up and we have enough force to grab mainstream-press attention.

    Posted by: Turtle | Jun 13, 2007 12:22:15 PM

  13. Dan White actually got manslaughter for the murder of Milk/Moscone. He was out on the streets 5 years later with no psychiatric treatment. His attorneys used the "twinkie defense" which is essentially the "gay panic" defense. Sad.

    Posted by: ShawnSF | Jun 13, 2007 12:23:27 PM

  14. Bil Browning, who said Aaron Hall was straight? Did he have a girlfriend or wife?

    Posted by: Jack! | Jun 13, 2007 12:35:59 PM

  15. Vince, that's a lovely catalog of stereotypes, but don't forget that hate crimes and brutal murders happen in even the most affluent and culturally sophisticated places in the country. Didn't Kevin Aviance get beaten up in lower Manhattan?

    And MT, I'm pretty sure the "gay panic" defense has been outlawed in some states, although I can't remember where.

    Posted by: John T | Jun 13, 2007 12:59:35 PM

  16. Well, you could tell they were on something when this went down. I was thinking meth, but booze was a distinct possibility. You can put forth a non sequitur defence in a trial--the judge will bar it, so gay panic as a defence can only be used according to precedent and law. If there was a slur about a mother, then a fighting words defence would be more typical.

    Posted by: anon ( | Jun 13, 2007 1:16:10 PM

  17. Damn, should have been "You can't put forth a non sequitur defence..."!

    Posted by: anon ( | Jun 13, 2007 1:17:15 PM

  18. Re: Bil Browning

    I'll allow that this might not be a hate crime, but I still think it's news: the murderers actually seemed to believe that "gay panic" would constitute a legal justification for their actions. It's not so much a hate crime as a hate-based defense, assuming that a jury or a judge would support them if they'd killed a queer. Kind of an abortive twinkie defense, as it were. And that is news.

    Posted by: Judah | Jun 13, 2007 1:42:12 PM

  19. Bil Browning, even if what you say is true, what does it say about the state of America today that these kids figured the best chance they had to get away with this was to claim that the victim made a "gay" pass at them?

    In some ways that seems even worse. They allegedly killed him because he insulted one of their mothers but they didn't feel that that would get them nearly as much sympathy as claiming that they were threatened by, and the VICTIMS of, an unwanted pass from a 5'4", 100 lb. boy.

    Posted by: Zeke | Jun 13, 2007 1:47:02 PM

  20. Isn't part of the point of hate crimes that it's someone's perceived sexuality?

    Straight guys in high school who don't fit the jock stereotype get called sissy or fag as much as the actual gay ones, right?

    Why don't they say how big the 2 guys who murdered this 5'4" man are?

    Posted by: Tiz | Jun 13, 2007 3:11:51 PM

  21. Let me be clear - I think it was a gruesome killing that needs to be investigated and fully punished. It just wasn't a hate crime. To me it points more to the need to completely abolish the "gay panic" defense. These kids had 10 days to sober up and find an excuse as to why they killed him. They chose "He hit on me."

    As to how I know he wasn't gay, that's been confirmed by the local newspaper, by his friends and family and is mentioned on the blog that brought this up as a hate crime. The kids knew Aaron well, and just thought it was a good excuse. They didn't percieve him as gay; they knew they were in trouble and needed a cover...

    I agree with Zeke that the real angle to this story is that they thought by saying he was gay, they'd have a defense. But "gay panic" just doesn't equal "hate crimes" and for a state that's trying desparately to finally GET a hate crimes law, labeling it as such (when it's not) is going to lose several votes in the legislature that were fence-sitters beforehand.

    I've blogged about this today on our site, as well. Feel free to stop by and comment.

    Posted by: Bil Browning | Jun 13, 2007 3:40:38 PM

  22. To me it points more to the need to completely abolish the "gay panic" defense.

    Bil, the 'gay panic' defense is a hate crime. It entails a violent reaction based on the percieved or real sexual orientation of the victim. As such, it falls well within the confines of the hate crime law. The reason you don't have 'black panic' and 'jew panic' is because those classes are already included in hate crime law and the moment anyone brings up a defense like that, additional charges of hate crime bias can be added to their sentence.

    The only reason 'gay panic' still works as a defense in some states/counties is because we don't have a federal hate crime law covering gays.

    Posted by: beergoggles | Jun 13, 2007 4:34:47 PM

  23. Bil, Thanks for giving us this additional perspective. I completely understand what you're saying, though I have serious doubts that this all transpired over an insult about one of the guy’s mothers. It's a really bad situation that will only get worse with misinformation and distractions. Hopefully they work through this in a way that justice will be served.

    I still don't understand, hate crime or not, why such a gruesome murder wouldn't have been covered by more local media.

    And I have to say that the "he insulted my mother" story just doesn't add up in my mind. I can't imagine this level of brutality over an insult. This was so visceral that there HAD to be more to it. And how does the victim end up naked? Something just aint right there. I think EVERYONE, including Bil, should step back and stop making definitive statements until more is known.

    Posted by: Zeke | Jun 13, 2007 5:13:19 PM

  24. Again, for those with no trial experience, you can't submit any defense you like, there must be some basis in fact. They need to show some evidence that a gay situation occurred in order to present a gay panic defence. The big problem with the OJ trial was Ito allowing non sequitur defense claims. (Sorry for the alt spellings...) Worth keeping track of though.

    Posted by: anon ( | Jun 13, 2007 5:20:45 PM

  25. Just because his parents and friends said he wasn't gay, doesn't mean he actually wasn't gay. While people are coming out younger and younger, a great many people (and probably even more of them in places like Indiana) don't come out until their 20s. Heck, I didn't come out until around 21... and I'm from Massachusetts.

    So, you could be very well right and this isn't truly a hate crime, but it could also be true. The only people who will ever know for sure are the four people who will hopefully go to jail for a very, very long time - and they're about as trustworthy as George Bush with a war to sell. So, we'll never know for sure... if those idiots get a hate crime added to their sentence, serves them right for making up that kind of defense.

    Posted by: Ryan | Jun 13, 2007 7:09:24 PM

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