Suspect identified in slaying of Andrew Nesbitt, a gay hate-crime survivor

Louis Weisberg, Staff writer

A man currently held at the Dane County Jail for suspected retail theft could be charged Monday with the homicide of Andrew G. Nesbitt, a gay man who was stabbed to death at his  downtown Madison apartment on his 47th birthday.

Nesbitt had moved to Madison after surviving a hate-motivated attack outside an Oshkosh gay bar.

At a March 30 press conference, Madison Police Chief Mike Koval said that Darrick E. Anderson, 23, a homeless man with a history of violence, likely would be charged April 3 with first-degree intentional homicide for Nesbitt’s death.

Madison detectives identified Anderson through surveillance cameras utilized in their effort to reconstruct his movements and Nesbitt’s in the hours leading up to the slaying. Nesbitt was last seen alive celebrating his birthday at Madison’s Five Night Club.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported discovering a “chance encounter” between the two men on a surveillance camera. Police ran an image from the camera through the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network, which is used by police departments in the state to share tips and alerts. A member of the UW-Madison Police Department matched the image with a photo of Anderson taken by a camera at Union South on March 23, when Anderson allegedly harassed an employee there and was banned from campus.

Various reports said that Anderson has a long criminal record dating back to 2012. He’s been arrested for fourth-degree sexual assault, physical assaults, criminal damage to properties, and other crimes.

The attack that ended his life was not Nesbitt’s first. He survived a brutal assault in Oshkosh in 2011. It was in the aftermath of that assault that Kathy Flores first met Nesbitt through her role as an advocate for LGBTQ victims of violence in the Fox Valley.

“He suffered a beating from two men who left him so injured he required emergency surgery to reduce swelling in his brain,” Flores, who is now LGBTQ Statewide Anti-Violence Coordinator for Diverse & Resilient, said in a statement. “Drew worked diligently over the years to recover physically and emotionally and recently relocated to Madison. … I was heartbroken to learn that he suffered another violent attack and died as a result of that attack.”

Nesbitt’s attackers in that case, two 20-year-old men, were convicted of aggravated battery with a hate-crime enhancer. They were sentenced to two years behind bars and three years of supervision, according to online records found by HostMadison.com.

Nesbitt and others reportedly were disappointed by the light sentence given the gravity of the attack, which left him with a swollen brain as well as broken bones in his jaw and other parts of his face.

But it didn’t dampen his spirit: Following the gay bashing, Nesbitt went on to become an advocate and supporter of other LGBT victims of hate crimes.

“I couldn’t believe that this victim of a hate crime — just weeks after it happened — expressed hope and love,” Flores said. “That was an inspiration to me.”

Police have yet to determine if his death was also the result of a hate crime. MPD’s investigation is ongoing.

Flores said Nesbitt’s homicide was a reminder of the dangers many in the LGBT community face.

“The straight community doesn’t necessary think about their safety the same way LGBTQ folks do,”  Flores said. “‘We constantly have to judge: Is this safe, is this not safe? We get that gut check where someplace doesn’t feel safe and it might deter us from going somewhere.'”

See also:  Two arrested for brutal attack outside gay bar in Oshkosh