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Gay Indiana Professor Don Belton Stabbed to Death in Own Home


Gay Indiana University professor and author Don Belton (left) was stabbed to death in his home by Michael Griffin, a decorated Marine who claims Belton sexually assaulted and raped him in front of his girlfriend while they were intoxicated. Belton was reportedly stabbed by Griffin two days later when the Marine went to confront the professor. Police are searching for the girlfriend, who apparently left town.

Belton is the author of Almost Midnight, a novel, and the anthology Speak My Name.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

Michael J. Griffin, 25, of Bloomington told police he visited Don Belton on Sunday to confront the 53-year-old assistant professor of English over two alleged assaults, the probable cause affidavit said. An argument and scuffle ensued. Griffin told police he stabbed Belton with a 10-inch military style knife after Belton failed to "show or express any type of feeling that what had taken place was a mistake," the affidavit said.

Griffin was being held without bond Tuesday in the Monroe County Jail on a charge of murder. An initial court hearing was set for Wednesday.

A friend who came to Belton's home in Bloomington on Monday found his body in the kitchen, authorities said. Police who were called to the scene found both doors unlocked and no signs of forced entry. Nothing was missing, said police Lt. David Drake. Drake said Belton was stabbed "at least five or six" times in the back and several times in the front of the torso.

The affidavit said police found Belton's journal, which contained an entry saying that he was "very happy" that someone named Michael had entered his life. Police later received a call from Griffin's girlfriend saying she thought her boyfriend might be involved in the slaying.

Officers who searched Griffin's home Monday night found the knife believed to have been used in the killing, Drake said. The affidavit said Griffin had bought the knife before serving as a Marine in Iraq.

Watch FOX 59's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Love the "apparently." Does she even exist?

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Dec 30, 2009 12:05:42 PM

  2. If the professor indeed raped this guy, then my sympathy gets slightly ratcheted down.

    Posted by: fred | Dec 30, 2009 12:09:19 PM

  3. Well the professor clearly got what he deserved. CASE CLOSED!

    Posted by: J. Bocca | Dec 30, 2009 12:14:11 PM

  4. I side with the marine guy on this one. Having been sexually assaulted myself, I kind of wanted to do this to that guy. It really messed my life up for a few years, now it's hard to get back going.

    Posted by: Me | Dec 30, 2009 12:17:14 PM

  5. A decorated Maine? I'm assuming that's supposed to be Marine...

    Posted by: Rhea | Dec 30, 2009 12:18:55 PM

  6. Wow, J. BOCCA, you certainly jumped to a conclusion quickly. Do you really think that Belton would write the was glad Michael "came into his life" about a rape victim?

    Hopefully there will be a fair trial and justice will be obtained. Even if there was coercion, that does NOT excuse returning days later and killing the offender.

    Posted by: David R. | Dec 30, 2009 12:20:02 PM

  7. So wait: you're siding with the killer rather than the dead man who can't defend himself against the charge of alleged rape. Okay. Just wanna be clear on that.

    Posted by: Doug | Dec 30, 2009 12:25:58 PM

  8. Something is really off on the story, if he was raped why not call the cops? How drunk was he to not fight back? Sounds more like buyers remorse.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Dec 30, 2009 12:30:58 PM

  9. JBocca was pretty clearly being sarcastic.

    Posted by: Tom | Dec 30, 2009 12:31:29 PM

  10. DOUG: To whom are you referring? My leanings are toward Belton (dead, older so less likely a hot-head, spoke well of Griffin) but I still hope Griffin gets a fair trial.

    Posted by: David R. | Dec 30, 2009 12:32:10 PM

  11. This has 'internalized homophobia freak-out' written all over it...closeted, or bi-curious man has sex with another man (TWICE!) and then the shame/remorse sets in and homocidal rage's a sad, sad story, one that we've seen occur far too many times.

    The only victim sympathy Griffin deserves is being a victim of his own mental influences from internalized societal/religious homophobia. Now we have one man dead, and another probably behind bars for the rest of his life (if there's any justice)...sorry for Griffin's fucked-up mental state, (probably not helped by his military background/experience PTSD?) but I sincerely hope a 'gay panic' defense fails here.

    TWO lives ruined, all because we can't deal with gay sexuality in this country. Sad, just sad.

    Posted by: Dennis | Dec 30, 2009 12:39:42 PM

  12. I don't know what I think at this point, but I see the way this will develop on both sides:

    Decorated Marine gets painted as borderline sociopath who was seeking sex and/or "coming out" guidance from older, successful, and well-known openly gay man, things go too far, and as an expression of his "internalized homophobia", he goes to confront the openly gay man a few days later about sex gone bad and commits murder because he "doesn't want to be gay".

    Older gay man gets painted as sexual predator who gets a decorated Marine and his girlfriend drunk and has sex with someone(s) too intoxicated to consent, and when confronted about it several days later, probably says or does something which triggers victim into stabbing him.

    This will be one ugly trial. Vic and perp are both sympathetic in their own way, and no matter what the resolution, someone will cry about some sort of "ism".

    Posted by: DR | Dec 30, 2009 12:39:47 PM

  13. Well, the responses to this have been interesting to say the least. This guy confronted the professor to get him to admit it was a mistake? And if he did admit it, what then? If he assaulted you, why not go to the police? And according to story, this guy was assaulted "twice." Does that mean he came back for a second assault?

    Look, I don't know what happened. But I think what happened is that these guys had consensual sex of some sort, this guy couldn't cope with what happened (as a result of internalized gay prejudice) and an killing him was the only way to deal with what was going on in his own head.

    Usually on T-Road when a straight person claims that a gay guy assaulted him or came on to him as an excuse for violence, the gays are quick to "pounce" on the straight guy.

    Yet, there doesn't seem to be a lot of outrage. And some posters have "sided" with the Marine who had military training and 28 years on the professor seemingly without considering that this might just be an attempt to excuse murder.

    I wonder if the tenor of the responses would be different if the professor was white.

    Posted by: BMF | Dec 30, 2009 12:45:50 PM

  14. Heaven forbid if the professor was white and the murderer was black.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Dec 30, 2009 12:52:34 PM

  15. "If the professor indeed raped this guy, then my sympathy gets slightly ratcheted down."

    White privilege, y'all.

    53 year old college prof rapes 25 year old strapping Marine. News at 11.

    Posted by: Jane Roe | Dec 30, 2009 12:55:41 PM

  16. The only defense will one of temporary insanity. You can't claim an affirmative defense post hoc to any assault, it has to be an immediate threat or assault. Normally, this can't be even brought up in trial. I'm thinking PTSD. Now, was this guy bi-curious or something? Probably, as a lot of recent hate crimes seem to indicate gay leanings in the perpetrators.

    Posted by: anon | Dec 30, 2009 1:00:16 PM

  17. For starters, there isn't a lot of outrage because this seems more like a domestic case than "random stranger at bar assaults gay guy for grabbing his junk". It's hard for me to get outraged, whether you like it or not, BMF, where I'm seeing a situation arising where the parties involved know each other. This wasn't random. Does that mean I don't feel terrible about what happened? No. But I'm not gonna get on my gay soapbox and cry to anyone who will listen about how evil Griffin is, nor will I tolerate the race card. This does not appear to be a random murder, and I will not get righteously indignant about it (in the same way I would a random assault) without more information. The fact that the victim apparently knew his assailant puts this in a whole different category.

    @PATRICKNYC, as an attorney in the criminal justice system, which reason would you like for me to give as to why the sexual assault wasn't reported to the police? Shame because it happened and he, being a tough Marine, couldn't stop it? Guilt over the fact that he had sex with another man and is dating a woman? Remorse over the sexual act itself? Or maybe he wanted time to process what happened and discuss it with the person who did it, whom he may have considered a friend, instead of opening up the drama of a male/male rape investigation, which in utterly humiliating, ESPECIALLY for the victim of a sexual assault? Or maybe knowing that if he went to the police, they would ask "why did you get drunk and have sex with another man and why are you bothering us with it?" because we all know they would. And every single one of those reasons will be justifiable in a jury's mind.

    The one fact which is gonna hurt Griffin... the knife. He can try to explain it as the fear of confronting his victimizer (straight women do this as well), but it's always a tough sell to cry "heat of passion" when you show up at the place where the incident happened to confront the man you're claiming raped you, and you have a knife not of the kind Joe Citizen is allowed to carry....

    Posted by: DR | Dec 30, 2009 1:05:07 PM

  18. @Jane Roe: Yes, it must be race, because we all know that 53 year old men NEVER get younger men drunk and take advantage of them. Oh, wait, that happens a lot more than we like to admit in the gay community.

    And it's not like the Professor was a tiny guy, I was floored when I heard he was in his 50s. Looks younger to me in the pics.

    Posted by: DR | Dec 30, 2009 1:08:03 PM

  19. "I wonder if the tenor of the responses would be different if the professor was white."

    You bet your ass they would be. No one, and I mean no one would be siding with the alleged murderer or lending even the slightest credence to this rape theory. People would be calling it out as the bogus gay panic defense it most likely is.

    But cute young white boy kills dreadlocked black old prof, and it's uncanny how some sympathies are even expressed for the alleged killer.

    Posted by: Jane Roe | Dec 30, 2009 1:08:13 PM

  20. @DR

    Thank you for a reasonable discussion of some of the salient points.

    Race was probably NOT a factor in the crime itself.

    But it is obviously a factor as reflected in these comments. And, as you suggest, it could be a factor in the trial itself.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Dec 30, 2009 1:12:22 PM

  21. Jesus it is surprising how many people are just leaping to the Marine's defense here.

    Posted by: Wes | Dec 30, 2009 1:14:00 PM

  22. DR, we will never know whether there was an assault or not, because the person who could have defended himself from that accusation is now dead.

    Let's not be so quick to portray a 25 year old as some callow youth, naive to the ways of the world. He's a man and a marine, a trained fighter and killer.

    Well, the prof probably looks younger because, as the saying goes, black don't crack.

    Posted by: Jane Roe | Dec 30, 2009 1:15:45 PM

  23. "Gay Panic" written all over this one. Important to point out that, at least here in CA, one cannot legally give consent if intoxicated. Getting drunk may have unleashed the Marine's inner gay beast, but it wouldn't have given the professor the "right" to take advantage of the situation. However, while the "gay panic" and "internalized homophobia" are concepts that help one understand, they don't excuse. You don't get to stab someone to death.

    Posted by: TJ | Dec 30, 2009 1:19:00 PM

  24. Drunk people can't have consensual sex in California?

    Posted by: Wes | Dec 30, 2009 1:21:16 PM

  25. i came to the comments SOLELY to see the reactions to this case, as soon as i saw it was a black gay man vs a white cute twink.

    you guys did NOT disappoint in the conclusions that were drawn.


    Posted by: johnosahon | Dec 30, 2009 1:31:47 PM

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