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.

Comments

  1. shane says

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

    Is there no one to save us?

  2. MT says

    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?

  3. PJ says

    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.

    Fuckers!

  4. beergoggles says

    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.

  5. says

    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”?

  6. says

    “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”?

  7. anon says

    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.

  8. says

    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.

  9. vince says

    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!

  10. Brandon says

    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.

  11. Turtle says

    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.

  12. ShawnSF says

    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.

  13. says

    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.

  14. anon (gmail.com) says

    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.

  15. anon (gmail.com) says

    Damn, should have been “You can’t put forth a non sequitur defence…”!

  16. says

    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.

  17. Zeke says

    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.

  18. Tiz says

    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?

  19. says

    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, bilerico.com as well. Feel free to stop by and comment.

  20. beergoggles says

    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.

  21. Zeke says

    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.

  22. anon (gmail.com) says

    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.

  23. says

    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.

  24. says

    As one of the local blogs in Indiana Bil Browning disparages in his earlier comments, please let me set the record straight since he’s intent on lying to everyone on this blog. The two accused killers told the police the fight began after Hall grabbed the crotch of one of them and asked for oral sex. One of the accused killers also threw in the “he insulted my mother” claim as well, but the focus was on the “homosexual” comment according to the sworn police affidavit in the case, which Mr. Browning apparently hasn’t read or refuses to accept the facts laid out therein. Hall’s family insists he was straight. A friend of the family, however, told me that Hall had spent time in prison and life wasn’t the best for the short 5’4″, 100-pound Hall if you know what I mean. She ran into Hall a short time after he was released from prison and he was suicidal according to her account. Even if he was gay, a family in Crothersville wouldn’t typically admit to other folks a member of their family was gay. Assuming, as Browning through divine intervention professes to know, that the men actually made the story up, the fact is they believed their acts would somehow be viewed as inexcusable if their victim was thought to be gay and had made a homosexual advance on one of them. A lot of people forget that Matthew Shepard’s killers were also convicted of assaulting two straight men on the same night they killed him. They also later recanted their story that they killed him because he made homosexual advances at them after they learned the judge wouldn’t allow the defense. So I guess by Mr. Browning’s logic, Shepard wasn’t the victim of a hate crime either.

  25. says

    For the benefit of your readers I’m providing you the full text of the police affidavit Bil Browning would prefer you not read because he speaks of just how horrific this unmistakable hate crime was. Note that the detached garage where Hall was found 10 days after he was killed belonged to the Jackson Co. Deputy Coroner, in whose house Hall was badly beaten. His son was one of the killers. Here it is:

    Hall’s body was discovered Sunday, April 22, wrapped in a tarp in the garage at the residence of Garrett Gray on South Bethany Road (also known as County Road 1025 East) ten days after he was last seen.

    Police say Hall, Gray and King were drinking at the Gray residence when a fight developed.The following information is taken from the probable cause affidavit filed with Jackson Circuit Court. Readers should be warned that information contained in the court document is graphic and may be offensive to some. The affidavit gives police accounts from interviews from witnesses and thus may only reveal one side of the matter.

    Sometime after April 13, John Hodge told police he had information on the disappearance and death of Hall. Indiana State Police Sgt. Rob Bays and Crothersville Police Capt. Vurlin McIntosh interviewed Hodge on Saturday, April 21.

    Hodge told police that as he was at work on the evening on April 12, he received a multi-media text message on his cell phone from Garrett Gray. Hodge said the photo showed Hall between Gray and King. Hall had a swollen black eye and a large, swollen lip, Hodge said.

    Court documents indicate that about 15 minutes later, Hodge received a cell phone call from Jamie Hendricks who was at the Gray residence. Hodge said Hendricks told him, “They’re beatin’ the h— out of that guy”. Hodge told police he could hear screaming and yelling in the background and thought he heard Hall yelling “Bitches”.

    Hodge said Hendricks told him Hall grabbed King in the groin and told him he wanted King to perform oral sex. Hendricks also said Hall made some comment about Gray’s deceased mother. Then there was an altercation.

    According to Hodge, Hendricks told him that Gray and King were beating Hall and King “went crazy on Hall.” Hendricks said he saw king at one point remove his boot and began striking Hall with it.

    Hendricks said this incident went on for several hours before Hall was loaded into Gray’s pickup and taken to a farm lane off County Road 1025 & 800 S when Hall was left in the ditch.

    Hodge went to the Gray residence on Friday morning. He said Hendricks began talking about the new camouflage coat that Hall was wearing and wanted to go get the coat. Hodge said Hendricks directed him to where they had dumped Hall and when he pulled up, he saw clothes lying in the ditch. Hodge said he saw a pair of tennis shoes, blue jeans, socks and a camouflage coat.

    Hodge then described seeing something in the field that he thought at first was a dead deer. Hodge said he walked towards the object and saw it was a human body. Hodge said he went back and forth a few times before he finally approached the body. Hodge sad the body was completely naked and was severely beaten. He said he recognized the subject to be Aaron Hall and that Hall was dead.

    Hodge said he and Hendricks left and went back to Gray’s house and told Gray they found Hall and he was dead.Hodge said Gray began vomiting and making statements of what his dad would say when he found out about this incident.

    Hodge said he left Gray’s house and later received a phone call from Hendricks that the body was moved, wrapped in a blue tarp and taken to Gray’s garage.

    According to the court document, Garrett Gray told Indiana State Police Sgt. Rob Bays and Jackson County Sheriff’s Lt. Darrin Downs that Hall and King came to Gray’s residence early in the evening on April 12. Gray said they were drinking beer and whiskey on the second floor of the residence when Hall grabbed King in the groin asking questions whether King had homosexual tendencies.

    Gray said these comments caused King to physically assault Hall. Gray said King then left the room and Gray approached Hall to inquire it he was all right. Gray then admitted to striking Hall several times in the eye area causing significant damage.

    Gray said King walked back into the room and moved Hall to the couch. According to Gray, King then straddled Hall and began physically assaulting him multiple times with his hands.

    The pair moved Hall out onto the deck area of the home where both he and King assaulted Hall again.

    Gray said they then dragged Hall down the wooden steps and put him in the bed of Grays Ford Ranger pickup.

    With Hall, King and Gray in the bed of the truck, James Hendricks drove the truck south on Bethany Road turning east down a farm lane at the intersection of 800 S.

    During the drive south, according to the court document, Gray admitted to asking Hall if he wanted to die tonight. While he said Hall could not really talk, he did hear him say that he did not want to die.

    Stopping the truck on the dirt lane, Hall was pulled from the truck bed into a ditch. Gray said King assaulted Hall again and they threw Hall camouflage jacket over the top of Hall body.

    Gray said he thought Hall was alive but his breathing was labored. He said Hall would take a breath of air and hold it for a long time before exhaling.

    Gray admitted to going back to the scene and Hall was not at the location they left him. He said they later went out and saw Hall dead lying in the field.Gray said several days later they went back to the scene, wrapped Hall’s body in a tarp and transported him to Gray’s detached garage.

    Coleman King was interviewed by Jackson County Sheriff’s Dept. Detectives Rob Henley and Bob Lucas telling them that he want to Garret Gray’s home around noon on April 12. King said he and James Hendricks, who was also at Gray’s home, went to Stop-In Liquors in Crothersville. On their way back to Gray’s house they picked up Aaron Hall.

    King said they were all drinking beer and whiskey when Hall grabbed him in the groin asking King to perform oral sex.

    King said he punched Hall then jumped on him punching him several more times. King said Gray also punched Hall while King held Hall down.

    King said Gray also held Hall down while beating him. King said Hall was bleeding, his eye swollen shut and he was spitting up blood.

    King said Gray dragged Hall down the stairs by his feet and his head bounced down all of the steps.

    King said they loaded Hall into the back of the pick up and continued beating Hall as Hendricks drove south to the dirt farm lane.

    King said they pulled Hall from the truck and left him in a ditch. King admitted to striking Hall a few more times. The trio then left Hall in the ditch.

    When they returned to Gray’s home, Gray started saying that they had to kill him or they will go to jail. King said Gray grabbed a shotgun when they went back to the house.

    King said he and Gray went back to the place where they left Hall. King said he did not get out of the truck but didn’t see Hall. King said Gray shot the gun twice into the woods and they returned to Gray’s residence. (It is not clear from the court document and the postmortem exam included in the affidavit did not indicate whether Hall’s body had been shot.)

    King said the next day, Gray called him telling him Hall was dead. King told detectives a couple of days later, he, Gray and Hendricks removed Hall’s body, wrapped it in a tarp and hid it in Gray’s garage.

    Gray and King are being held without bond on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter in the Jackson County Jail. Judge William Vance set Gray’s trial date for Oct. 16 with a pre-trail court appearance for July 19.

    King’s trial date was set for Oct. 23 with a pre-trial appearance scheduled fro July 19.

    Hendricks, charged with assisting a criminal act, is being held under a $25,000 bond.

  26. So Left I'm Right says

    The whole thing, including the Indiana blog take on it, makes me vomit a little myself.

  27. Zeke says

    Sick!

    Sorry Bil but your story just doesn’t add up at all!

    This police report makes a whole lot more sense and shows that this was in fact a hate crime based on an extreme over reaction to an unwanted advance.

    Thanks Gary for sharing this police report. It’s disturbing but I think we need to hear these grusome details to wake us up to the level of fear and hate that’s out there.

    I

  28. mark m says

    “gay panic” should be done away with forever and replaced with more realistic explanations.

    Some of my suggestions include:

    “I was molested as a boy and I have never told anyone, so anything perceived as same sex eroticism triggers a violent reaction”

    A variation would be “I experimented with a male best friend when I was 10 so….”

    Or…

    “I am straight and I have a fetish for wearing my mom’s underwear and that freaks me out, so when confronted with images of homosexuality, I’m afraid someone will think I wear women’s panties, so I get violent”

    Then there’s always the old tried and true:

    “I secretly harbor homoerotic urges so I have to lash out at anything or anyone perceived as homosexual because I hate myself.”

  29. A. J. Lopp says

    “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
    —————-
    Ryan, we know for sure that they will *NOT* “get a hate crime added to their sentence” because INDIANA HAS NO HATE CRIME LAW WHATSOEVER — even if this had been several white men murdering a black man while calling him the derogatory form of “Negro!” all the while, it still would not be a hate crime in Indiana.

    Indiana needs a hate crime law to protect not only gays, but all groups that might be the target of social hate — including that majority “minority” group known as women, gay or straight.

    I live in southern Indiana about maybe fifty miles from Crothersville, I’m watching this case closely, and I agree that it calls for more press coverage.

    Was it a hate crime? I don’t know. I think the court case will need to run its course, and even then we may not know for sure.

  30. says

    This sickens me. It is just NOT OK to beat someone to death, period. Usually when people panic they run or they “freeze” not really knowing what to do. This is scarily reminiscent of Matthew Shepard (sp?) and it’s another wake up call that Hate Crime laws must be instituted everywhere.

  31. Straight-F-In-KS says

    I came across this website after watching a youtube video. I wanted to learn more about this case, and learn I have. I am a straight female, using the gay defense is so ludicrous. After reading a few other sites, its claimed by the victims family and friends that he in fact was not gay. Now thats not only a slap to him, but a slap to the gay community. If everyone was allowed to walk around blaming, gays, straights, whites, blacks, and every other thing imaginable to get out of murder, what a totally sick place we would all live in.