Man indicted in killing of gay Mississippi mayoral candidate

A Mississippi grand jury on Feb. 12 indicted Lawrence Reed for the murder of Marco McMillian, 34, a candidate for mayor of Clarksdale in the Mississippi Delta.

McMillian was found dead on Feb. 27, 2013. He had been beaten and his body had been burned and left on a river levee.

A day earlier,  Reed, driving McMillian's SUV, crashed head-on into another vehicle. McMillian was not in the vehicle, raising suspicion of foul-play.

After the discovery of McMillian's body, authorities arrested Reed for murder.

The slaying received significant attention, in part, because McMillian's campaign said he was the first openly gay, viable candidate for public office in Mississippi.

There has been concern that a gay panic defense might be employed to defend Reed, who knew the victim.

Following the announcement of the indictment, the National LGBT Bar Association released a statement: "In August 2013, the American Bar Association unanimously passed a resolution championed by the LGBT Bar to eliminate the use and effectiveness of these defenses. The resolution calls for legislative orders; jury instruction; and education for courts, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the public about the harms perpetuated by blaming a victim for his or her own death."

D’Arcy Kemnitz, executive director of the LGBT Bar, added, “Today’s indictment ensures that Marco’s family will get their day in court. The trial court must reject any assertion that LGBT people can be targeted because of who they are. The LGBT community should no longer have to endure a secondary victimization and be made to feel powerless while their assailants receive reduced sentences.”

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