Suspect charged in slaying of gay hate-crime survivor

Louis Weisberg, Staff writer

A 23-year-old man has been charged with the stabbing death of Andrew G. Nesbitt in his downtown Madison apartment.

Nesbitt had moved to Madison after surviving a previous attack outside an Oshkosh gay bar. His roommate found his body on March 27, Nesbitt’s 46th birthday.

Darrick E. Anderson, of Columbus, was charged April 3 with first-degree intentional homicide, as well as two counts of misdemeanor retail theft, three counts of misdemeanor bail jumping and one count of obstructing police. He’s being held on $250,000 bail.

The criminal complaint filed in the case does not state a motive for the killing.

According to the complaint, Anderson was identified as a suspect in the homicide on March 28 and arrested later that day for shoplifting.

The break in the case came from surveillance tape that recorded the two men having what police called a “chance encounter” at a convenience store. 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.

Anderson has a long history of run-ins  with law enforcement that includes arrests for fourth-degree sexual assault, physical assault, criminal damage to property and other crimes.

The attack that ended his life was not Nesbitt’s first. He survived an 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 the earlier 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 in the sentence given the gravity of the attack, which left Nesbitt with a swollen brain, as well as broken bones in his jaw and other parts of his body.

But following that gay bashing, Nesbitt went on to become an advocate and supporter of other LGBT victims of hate crimes

In a 2012 Facebook message that Flores sent Nesbitt, she wrote: “May love wrap around you and help you heal. Damn, I’m sorry there is so much hate in the world.”

Nesbitt responded: “Thank you, Kathy, I very much appreciate that. One thing I can attest to through the last few weeks is that I believe love is much, much more powerful than hate will ever be.”