Tag Archives: first-degree murder

Idaho man pleads not guilty to hate crime in killing of gay man

An Idaho man charged with a federal hate crime in the beating death of a gay man pleaded not guilty in Boise’s U.S. District Court.

A March trial was set for 23-year-old Kelly Schneider, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in state court this week.

He was indicted earlier this month on the hate crime charge that accused him of attacking Steven Nelson last year because he was gay.

Few documents have been filed in the federal court case so far, but the details of the attack are outlined in the related state court case: Prosecutors say Schneider used an online personals ad on Backdoor.com to lure the 49-year-old Nelson to a remote recreation area near Lake Lowell in southwestern Idaho.

There Nelson was robbed, stripped, beaten and left.

Despite being critically injured, naked and barefoot, Nelson managed to walk to a home about a half-mile away for help. He was able to give police information before he died a few hours later.

Schneider pleaded guilty in state court to first-degree murder.

But Idaho’s state hate crime law doesn’t extend protections to people who are gay or lesbian, and so Schneider was transferred to federal custody to face the hate crime charge.

Schneider was one of four men charged in connection with the attack in Idaho’s state courts.

On Monday, Schneider pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, saying that he intended to rob Nelson but not kill him. He acknowledged that he kicked Nelson repeatedly and that his actions caused Nelson’s death.

In exchange for his guilty plea, state prosecutors agreed to drop robbery, theft and conspiracy charges. He now faces life in state prison, as well as a possible life sentence in federal prison if he is convicted on the federal hate crime charge.

The other three men in the state case — Jayson Woods, 28; Kevin R. Tracy, 21; and Daniel Henkel, 23 — are still awaiting trial on first-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy charges.

Schneider has a lengthy criminal history in Idaho. But the only other violent crime on his record is an injury to an officer conviction that appears to stem from his time spent in the Canyon County jail in 2012.

Still, Deputy Canyon County Prosecutor Chris Boyd said during Schneider’s state court arraignment last year that he believed Schneider had lured and beaten other victims many times before and the sheriff’s office said at the time they had received tips about others who may have been victimized in the same way.

However, no additional cases have been filed against Schneider in state court.

Planned Parenthood suspect: ‘I am a warrior for the babies’

The man accused of killing three people in an attack on a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic defied his own defense attorney in court, declaring himself a “warrior for the babies” who would not be silenced by the lawyer tasked with potentially saving his life.

Robert Dear, 57, repeatedly interrupted public defender Daniel King and accused him of seeking a gag order in the case to conceal what Dear portrayed as Planned Parenthood’s crimes that led to the Nov. 27 assault. The conflict added a new level of turmoil to a politically charged case that has already sparked debate about when political speech becomes a call for violence.

“You’ll never know what I saw in that clinic,” a bearded, unkempt and shackled Dear yelled on Wednesday in one of more than a dozen outbursts as King successfully argued for the gag order by contending that public discussion of the investigation could prejudice potential jurors. “Atrocities. The babies. That’s what they want to seal.” A deputy squeezed Dear’s shoulder in an effort to quiet him.

King appeared to be trying to follow the same playbook he used in his defense of Colorado theater shooter James Holmes, whom he convinced a jury earlier this year to spare from execution on the grounds of his mental illness. But, as Dear was formally charged with 179 counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder and other crimes that could lead to the death penalty, he was having none of it.

“Do you know who this lawyer is?” Dear exclaimed of King. “He’s the lawyer for the Batman shooter. Who drugged him all up. And that’s what they want to do to me.”

Holmes was on anti-psychotic medication this year during his trial for the 2012 shootings that killed 12 people and wounded 70. He was sentenced to life in prison.

“Seal the truth, huh? Kill the babies. That’s what Planned Parenthood does,” Dear yelled later. At another point, he snapped at King: “You’re trying silence me.” Then he said: “Let’s let it all come out. Truth!”

King did not directly address the outbursts, though at one point during a break he leaned over to Dear and said: “I know what you’re trying to do; it’s not going to work.” King raised doubts about whether Dear is competent to stand trial, saying defense attorneys wanted investigators to turn over evidence as soon as possible so they could assess the “depth of his mental illness.”

Colorado Springs police have refused to discuss a potential motive in the Nov. 27 attack, which wounded nine and killed three. But even before Wednesday’s startling outbursts, there was mounting evidence that Dear was deeply concerned about abortion.

He rambled to authorities  about “no more baby parts” after his arrest. And a law enforcement official told The Associated Press this week that Dear asked at least one person in a nearby shopping center for directions to the clinic before opening fire. The official was not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

On Wednesday, Dear interjected as Judge Gilbert A. Martinez discussed a pretrial publicity order, saying, “Could you add the babies that were supposed to be aborted that day? Could you add that to the list?”

At one point, Dear yelled simply, “Protect babies!”

Later, he accused his attorneys of being in “cahoots” with Planned Parenthood to “shut me up.”

“I want the truth to come out. There’s a lot more to this than for me to go silently to the grave,” he shouted.

Dear has lived in remote locations without electricity or running water and was known to hold survivalist ideas.

One of his three ex-wives, Barbara Mescher Micheau of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, said he vandalized a South Carolina abortion clinic at least 20 years earlier, announcing to her that he had put glue in the locks of its doors, a common protest technique among activists trying to shut down abortion clinics.

Killed in the attack were Garrett Swasey, 44, a University of Colorado-Colorado Springs officer who rushed to the scene; Ke’Arre Stewart, 29, an Iraq war veteran who was accompanying someone at the clinic; and Jennifer Markovsky, 35, who also accompanied a friend at the clinic.

Five other officers were shot and wounded in the rampage.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said Monday that responding officers rescued 24 people from inside the clinic building and helped remove 300 people from surrounding businesses where they had been hiding while the shooting unfolded.

Martinez set the next hearing for Dear for Dec. 23. A first-degree murder conviction can lead to life in prison or the death penalty.

At the end of Wednesday’s hearing, the judge looked at Dear and said, “Are you finished?”

Feds to probe hate crime links in shootings at Jewish sites in Kansas

Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered a Justice Department investigation into whether federal hate crimes were committed in shootings at two Jewish facilities in Kansas that killed three people.

In a statement, Holder said he has instructed the department to provide all available support to state and local authorities to determine whether the shootings outside Kansas City over the weekend broke federal hate crimes law.

The attorney general said the senseless acts of violence are all the more heartbreaking because they were carried out on the eve of Passover.

Holder said the Justice Department will do everything in its power to ensure justice is served in the case on behalf of the victims and their families. Two men were killed on April 13 behind the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kan. The gunman fled and opened fire at nearby Village Shalom, killing a woman, before being arrested near an elementary school.

Federal hate crimes are acts of violence committed on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or disability. U.S. law enforcement agencies reported 5,796 hate crime incidents in 2012, according to the latest figure available from the FBI.

A known white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader, Frazier Glenn Cross, was jailed in the shootings on a preliminary charge of first-degree murder. The 73-year-old man also was known as Frazier Glenn Miller. He founded the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and served as its “grand dragon” before launching the supremacist White Patriot Party, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups and their leaders.

Teen accused of killing gay classmate goes on trial

Brandon McInerney was a scrawny 14-year-old from a broken home when he was accused of gunning down a gay classmate in front of stunned students at a Ventura County, Calif., middle school.

Three years later – and six months shy of legal adulthood – McInerney is going on trial on a charge of first-degree murder in the killing of 15-year-old Larry King (pictured). If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

Opening statements are slated for July 5 at a courthouse in the San Fernando Valley, following a change of venue.

Larry’s death has roiled gay-rights advocates and parents in Oxnard, about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles, where the shooting occurred in February 2008. They wondered why school officials hadn’t done more to stop the harassment toward Larry by students, including McInerney. Larry’s family sued the school district, among two dozen defendants, for failing to protect the teen.

The conflict between the two boys, who both had troubled upbringings, didn’t seem out-of-place for teens coping with adolescence. There were taunts, teasing and on at least one occasion, a scuffle between Larry and McInerney, who purportedly tried to get others to beat up Larry.

What made the discord different from routine bullying is how Larry stood up for himself.

The day before the shooting, one of McInerney’s friends told authorities that Larry uttered the words “I love you” as he passed McInerney in a hallway, according to court documents filed by prosecutors.

The friend said McInerney told him he was “going to get a gun and shoot (Larry),” according to court papers. One of Larry’s friends claimed McInerney told her, “Say goodbye to your friend Larry, because you’re never going to see him again.”

The following day, as the boys sat in a computer lab, McInerney drew a .22-caliber gun from his sweatshirt and shot Larry in the back of the head.

McInerney “then stood up as Larry collapsed to the floor, looked around at his astonished classmates and delivered a second coup-de-grace shot into the back of Larry’s head,” prosecutor Maeve Fox wrote in court documents.

White supremacist materials were found in McInerney’s bedroom, including books and drawings of swastikas. McInerney didn’t attend a school field trip to the Museum of Tolerance, the educational arm of the human rights organization the Simon Wiesenthal Center, court records showed.

At a preliminary hearing last year, a police detective testified that Larry’s sexuality was an affront to McInerney’s ideology, and was probably the motive for the crime.

McInerney has pleaded not guilty to murder, lying in wait and a hate crime. Defense lawyer Scott Wippert has not returned calls and e-mails seeking comment. Wippert, however, told the Ventura County Star, that Larry sexually harassed McInerney and the shooting was committed in the heat of the moment.

Jurors will likely hear about the rough upbringings of both teens.

Larry, who told some people he was gay, lived at a center for abused and neglected children in the months before his death. Girls used him as a pawn to clear a table of boys at lunch, according to prosecutors. When Larry asked to sit with them, the boys got up and sometimes called him derogatory names.

McInerney came from an abusive household where his father, William McInerney, was sentenced for battery against his mother in 2000. William McInerney also was accused of shooting her in the elbow several months before his son was born.

He died in March 2009 of blunt-force head trauma at his home. The coroner ruled his death was accidental.

While McInerney will be tried as an adult because of the gravity of the alleged crime, some legal experts said the panel could be more lenient because of his youth.

“One, they recognize the younger you are, the more likely you are to be rehabilitated,” said Tom Lyon, a professor of law and psychology at the University of Southern California. “And two, they see more impulsiveness in their actions.”

Larry’s death has gained some resonance around the nation, where vigils have been held in his memory. Thousands of comments were left on Internet sites dedicated to him in the weeks following the shooting.

Lyon said the tragedy could foster discussion between adults and children about intolerance.

“This kind of case is something students can discuss to deal with prejudices and alleviate them,” he said.