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04/19/2007


Brown Gets Two Life Terms for Ryan Keith Skipper Murder

William Brown Jr. was sentenced yesterday for the 2007 murder of Ryan Keith Skipper after being convicted last month:

Brown "Brown, 23, was given two life sentences Tuesday for his part in the robbery and stabbing death of Ryan Skipper, who attended Lakeland's Traviss Career Center. His co-defendant, Joseph 'Smiley' Beardon, 24, already is serving a life sentence after he was found guilty of second-degree murder and other charges in February. Prosecutors labeled the case a hate crime, saying the two men considered Skipper an easy target robbery because of his sexuality. The state initially sought the death penalty against Brown, but when that threatened to delay the trial, Skipper's family agreed to let prosecutors move ahead without the death penalty. Pat Mulder, Skipper's mother, said Tuesday that she was relieved to see the case end, though she's uncertain whether Brown understands what he has done. 'He stole my heart when he killed my son,' she said after the hearing."

In March 2007, Skipper's body was found by the side of a rural road in central Florida with more than 20 stab wounds. His car and laptop had been stolen. The car was abandoned and recovered by authorites, who reported that the assailants had attempted to set it on fire but did not succeed. They had also cut out a seat belt because it was so bloody they couldn't clean it. Bearden, then 21, and William David Brown Jr., then 20, were later arrested and indicted for the killing. A witness brought in by authorities at the time told police that Brown had killed Skipper because he was gay.


Second Killer in Ryan Keith Skipper Murder Found Guilty

William Brown Jr. has been found guilty of first degree murder and robbery in the March 2007 death of Ryan Keith Skipper:

"The verdict was announced at 2:56 p.m. Jurors had been deliberating since 12:34 p.m. Brown will be sentenced to life in prison Dec. 1. During this morning's closing arguments, Assistant State Attorney Cass Castillo rejected Brown's statement to detectives that he 'blacked out' during the 2007 stabbing attack."

Brown In March 2007, Skipper's body was found by the side of a rural road in central Florida with more than 20 stab wounds. His car and laptop had been stolen. The car was abandoned and recovered by authorites, who reported that the assailants had attempted to set it on fire but did not succeed. They had also cut out a seat belt because it was so bloody they couldn't clean it. Bearden, then 21, and William David Brown Jr., then 20, were later arrested and indicted for the killing. A witness brought in by authorities at the time told police that Brown had killed Skipper because he was gay.

Brown's accomplice, Joseph Bearden was found guilty of second-degree murder, theft of a motor vehicle, accessory after the fact to robbery with a weapon, tampering with evidence, and dealing in stolen property on February 27 of this year. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 25 years.

Hopefully this will give Skipper's parents, Pat and Lynn Mulder, some semblance of peace and closure.


Killer of Gay Man in Florida Receives Life Sentence, Apologizes

Beardenremarks

Joseph Bearden, who was convicted earlier today by a jury for second-degree murder in the March 2007 death of Ryan Keith Skipper, a gay Florida man, made remarks at his sentencing, apologizing for the murder and telling the courtroom that he did not witness the murder and if he had seen what had taken place he would have tried to stop it.

Brown Said Bearden: "I just thought it was a simple robbery. I didn't even think that dude was going to get hurt. I didn't want no part of that. I said I didn't want no part of it and they still involved me. They still involved me in it. I didn't do it. And the man that did it is walking the street. And he testified. That's all that I know."

In March 2007, Skipper's body was found by the side of a rural road in central Florida with more than 20 stab wounds. His car and laptop had been stolen. The car was abandoned and recovered by authorites, who reported that the assailants had attempted to set it on fire but did not succeed. They had also cut out a seat belt because it was so bloody they couldn't clean it. Bearden, then 21, and William David Brown Jr., then 20, were later arrested and indicted for the killing. A witness brought in by authorities at the time told police that Brown had killed Skipper because he was gay.

Bearden's co-defendant, William Brown, is to be tried at a later date on charges of first-degree murder and robbery.

Bearden was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 25 years.

Watch Bearden speak to the judge and the courtroom, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Killer of Gay Man in Florida Receives Life Sentence, Apologizes" »


Killer of Florida Gay Man Ryan Skipper Found Guilty on All Counts

Bearden

Joseph Bearden, the first of two men accused in the hate crime murder of Ryan Keith Skipper, has been found guilty on all counts. A jury found Bearden guilty of second-degree murder, theft of a motor vehicle, accessory after the fact to robbery with a weapon, tampering with evidence, and dealing in stolen property.

UPDATE: Bearden sentenced to life in prison. "Prosecutors charged him with first degree murder, but jurors could not find him guilty on that count, or a lesser charge of 2nd degree murder with a weapon."

Skipper In March 2007, Skipper's body was found by the side of a rural road in central Florida with more than 20 stab wounds. His car and laptop had been stolen. The car was abandoned and recovered by authorites, who reported that the assailants had attempted to set it on fire but did not succeed. They had also cut out a seat belt because it was so bloody they couldn't clean it.

Bearden, 21, and William David Brown Jr., 20, were later arrested and indicted for the killing. A witness brought in by authorities at the time told police that Brown had killed Skipper because he was gay.

Brown is to be tried at a later date on charges of first-degree murder and robbery.

Skipper's parents, Lynn and Pat Mulder, and brother Damien, have become active since his death in pushing for hate crimes legislation. In November 2007, the Mulders created a PSA for Equality Florida. They also submitted a question during the YouTube presidential debates.

Watch as the verdict is read, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Killer of Florida Gay Man Ryan Skipper Found Guilty on All Counts" »


Verdict Imminent for Accused Killer of Gay Florida Man

A verdict in the murder trial of Joseph Bearden, accused of murdering Floridian Ryan Keith Skipper in 2007, could come today. Skipper was found in a rural area stabbed 19 times. His car was found abandoned and slightly burned, on a boat ramp near Winter Haven, where Skipper's body was found.

BeardenThe Orlando Sentinel reports:

"Assistant State Attorney Cass Castillo said in the Polk County Courthouse that Bearden, 23, and co-defendant William 'Bill Bill' Brown Jr., killed Skipper so he wouldn't turn them in to police after they stole his car. They also stabbed to death the 25-year-old Wahneta man because he was gay, Castillo said. 'The extent of the injuries in this case is a result of the hate, contempt and disregard of another human being because he's gay,' Castillo said Wednesday. 'They just didn't care.'"

The defense is trying to distance Bearden from the actual killing, citing lack of evidence and unreliable witnesses:

Skipper "Defense Attorney Byron Hileman said Bearden tried to sell Skipper's car but did not take part in the killing. He said there was no evidence linking Bearden to the area where Skipper's body was found. His fingerprints were found only on the car. Meanwhile, investigators found a shoe print at the murder scene that matched the sole of Brown's boots. Hileman said Brown also had cuts on his hands, which investigators think he might have received in a knife fight. Hileman also questioned the credibility of the state's witnesses who linked Bearden to the killing. 'Virtually all civilian witnesses are folks who have lived in a world where drugs are the most important things,' Hileman said in his closing arguments. 'The credibility of a great many witnesses is in question.'"

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Closing arguments pit hate crime against unreliable witnesses [orlando sentinel]


Trial Begins in Florida in Ryan Keith Skipper Murder Case

Bearden

Testimony began yesterday in the murder trial against Joseph Bearden, one of two defendants in the 2007 murder of Ryan Keith Skipper. Bearden, then 21, and William David Brown Jr., then 20, were indicted in 2007 on charges of first degree murder and robbery with a deadly weapon. If convicted, both could face the death penalty.

SkipperSkipper's body was found by the side of a rural road in central Florida with more than 20 stab wounds. His car and laptop had been stolen. The car was abandoned and recovered by authorites, who reported that the assailants had attempted to set it on fire but did not succeed. They had also cut out a seat belt because it was so bloody they couldn't clean it.

A witness told investigators in March 2007 that Skipper's sexuality was the motive.

The Ledger reports: "Investigators have said Bearden made derogatory remarks to others about Skipper's being gay. But in opening statements, prosecutors focused on the robbery of Skipper as the motive for the killing. Wearing a black suit, Bearden conferred quietly with his two lawyers. During opening statements, defense lawyers hinted Bearden would take the witness stand. Since his arrest, Bearden has gotten numerous tattoos. A teardrop appeared to drip from his right eye. Large markings decorate the areas above and below his left eye. Others peeked out from the collar and cuffs of his gray dress shirt. Assistant State Attorney Cass Castillo told jurors Skipper was killed on a dark, secluded stretch of rural roadway. The prosecutor noted some of Skipper's blood was left behind inside his car. But the largest amount was on the roadway, showing the most severe injuries were inflicted outside the vehicle, Castillo said. Skipper's wounds included deep cuts to both sides of his neck, and multiple stab wounds to his shoulder and back, he said. After the killing, Bearden and Brown drove away in Skipper's vehicle, Castillo said. He said fingerprints found on the car included Skipper's, Bearden's and Brown's."

Pat and Lynn Mulder, Skipper's parents, have been outspoken about anti-gay hate crimes since their son's death. They recorded a PSA and also submitted a question to the YouTube debate during the presidential campaign that was not made part of the debate.

Watch both clips, AFTER THE JUMP...

Background
Pat and Lynn Mulder Take Spotlight to Fight Hate Crimes [tr]
Parents of Hate Crime Victim Submit YouTube Debate Question [tr]
Florida Hate Crime Vigils Held for Gay Murder Victim [tr]
Florida Men Indicted for Murder of Gay Man [tr]
Two Held in Brutal Murder of Gay Florida Man [tr]

Continue reading "Trial Begins in Florida in Ryan Keith Skipper Murder Case" »


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