Thursday, May 03, 2007

Why Won't The Star Cover The Hate Crime Killing Of Aaron Hall?

Why haven't you read about the hate crime killing of Aaron Hall on the pages of the Indianapolis Star? One of the worst documented hate crimes in recent memory took place in Crothersville, Indiana on April 12. The killing comes at a time when the religious right in Indiana fought unsuccessfully to pass a constitutional amendment to write discrimination against Indiana's gay and lesbian citizens into the Indiana Bill of Rights. The same homobigoted proponents of the same-sex marriage amendment successfully blocked attempts to enact a hate crimes law in Indiana, using mean-spirited and homobigoted rhetoric to scare legislators from voting for it. The Star's editors chose not to back the hate crimes legislation, largely at the insistence of RiShawn Biddle. While his newspaper has been silent about the case, Biddle blogged derisively about the case this week. "There's no way that the passage of the proposed hate crimes law contained in House Bill 1459 have actually protected Aaron Hall from being allegedly murdered last week -- and the murkiness of the case shows that it may not even have been considered a hate crime," he writes. Why bother having any criminal laws if they don't prevent crime from happening? "Being allegedly murdered"? "The murkiness of the case"? Please consider.
The two men charged in the hate crime death of Aaron "Shorty" Hall could escape as their punishment "knowingly or intentionally kill[ing] another human being, while acting under sudden heat” as the Jackson County Banner writes. Hall's nickname was "Shorty" because he stood about 5'4" and weighed no more than 100 pounds. Garrett Gray and Coleman King would relate to police how they beat him over a several hour period on April 12 because they believed Hall was gay. Spitting up blood and gasping for breath, the two took pictures of themselves with him and text-messaged them to a friend, John Hodge. A third man present for the beating, James Hendrix, would telephone King and Gray and tell him they were "beatin the hell out of [Hall]." King is said to have taken his boot off and struck Hall at least 75 times.
Later, they would drag Hall's body out of the house where he was beaten, strip him naked and load him into a pickup truck. Gray would ask Hall if he "wanted to die tonight" as they drove him to a secluded farm lane. Despite Hall's plea for life, Gray and King would beat him further and dump his naked body in a ditch. Fearing he might live to name his accusers, Gray grabbed a shotgun and returned to the ditch where Hall was dumped and fired two shots according to King. The next day, James Hendrix, who wanted to retrieve a new camouflage coat belonging to Hall, returned with Hodge to the ditch where he was dumped. While his clothes still lay in the ditch, Hall's naked and badly beaten body was discovered in a nearby field where Hall had apparently crawled as he grasped for life.
A couple of days after the killing, Gray and King would return to the scene, wrap Hall's body in a blue tarp and place it in a detached garage of the same house where Gray lived. The house where Hall was beaten and the detached garage belonged to Gray's father, Terry Gray, who is the Jackson County Deputy Coroner. Hall's body would remain in the garage for nearly ten days undetected before police, acting on a tip, searched the garage and found Hall's body. Terry Hall told reporters he knew his son and the other two boys, and he knew they weren't capable of intentionally killing Hall. The deputy coroner didn't explain how he was unable to observe the blood stains in his own home, which John Hodge said he observed, or notice Hall's dead body stored in his garage for days.
Why do police know so much about how this crime was committed? Because the accused told them this is what happened. Apparently they believe that the circumstances of Hall allegedly being gay and making a sexual advance at one of them will excuse them from a conviction for the intentional crime of murder. And in one of only five states in the country without a hate crimes law, the defendants may well think the jurors will buy into a so-called "gay panic" defense, even though it is not a legally recognized defense.
Is it possible this could be a crime of "sudden heat" as one of the charges against the two killers avers? Is it possible that a man who watched the beating take place over several hours, helped the attackers dump Hall's body while he was still alive in a ditch and then returned with another man for the purpose of getting the man's coat be charged merely with assisting a criminal, a Class C felony? Is it possible that the man who saw the photo of Hall's badly beaten face with his attackers, talked to his friend on the telephone as the beating occurred and could hear the screams of Hall in the background, and visited the blood-stained crime scene in the house and the place where Hall's dead body had been dumped be charged with no crime? Is it possible all of these have happened in this case, and that nothing has been reported on the pages of the Indianapolis Star? Sadly, the answer is yes to all of the above.


Wilson46201 said...

"If it bleeds, it leads." This certainly was a gory crime suitable for tabloid-sensationalism that sells newspapers. Gannett is all about profit margins - why is the current Star management not trying to boost sales with such juicy crime coverage?

Anonymous said...

Pullium wasn't much better, Wilson.

RiShawn has lost a lot of credibility in the last 24 hours. He was not in a surplus position regarding credibility.

Still in all, anyone who gets under Amos Brown's skin is doing something right. RiShawn does that regularly.

Wise up, RiShawn!

Anonymous said...

The Star is too-consumed covering the killing of a rich Carmel socialite to cover a white trash murder.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, their news judgment is suffering. Frankly, it's not much better at any Indy news outlet, electronic or print.

Anonymous said...

"Garrett Gray and Coleman King would relate to police how they beat him over a several hour period on April 12 because they believed Hall was gay."

How in the world do you draw this conclusion, AI? Nothing that you have posted indicates that.

Advance Indiana said...

Anon 8:18, you're not going to get by with that obfuscating bullshit here. The police, the probable cause affidavit and every news report of this story has indicated the two beat Hall because they said he was gay. The Hall family called it a hate crime, although they didn't believe Hall was gay. That's what is being said all over Crothersville. And you don't want to hear that, but that's how it is.

Advance Indiana said...

And if you would like to comment further, anonymous, you can identify yourself and stop being such a spineless, coward. The anonymous post feature is turned off for the time being.

donna said...

Advance Indiana--
"And if you would like to comment further, anonymous, you can identify yourself and stop being such a spineless, coward. The anonymous post feature is turned off for the time being."

Amen to that.

Anonymous said...

Four or five days later and still waiting for an answer:

"Garrett Gray and Coleman King would relate to police how they beat him over a several hour period on April 12 because they believed Hall was gay."

How in the world do you draw this conclusion, AI? Nothing that you have posted indicates that.

Advance Indiana said...

Gee, anon 11:44, why is that every time you post that same anonymous comment, someone is logged on to this blog from I can delete it, and you will come running right back to repost it. Too bad they aren't keeping you busy doing other things over at the Indianapolis Star than trolling the local blogs to make your snide little comments.

Anonymous said...

Too bad that you are so incapable of defending your own statements that you find it necessary to delete such simple questions and to turn off the anonymous posting feature.

Based on all your commentary, it sure seems to me like you ought to have a simple answer. Too bad that you insist on demonstrating otherwise. Still waiting.

Advance Indiana said...

Your question was answered, RiShawn. Don't talk to me about deleting posts. You don't allow anyone to post anonymously at your blog, and you've selectively not allowed comments you don't like.

Anonymous said...

You seem just about as confident in your ability to detect the author of anonymous comments as you do that you have answered such a simple question. Have you ever considered that you might be wrong on both accounts?

Still waiting for that answer, Gary.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous who is having difficulty embracing this as a hate crime:

"Garrett Gray and Coleman King would relate to police how they beat him over a several hour period on April 12 because they believed Hall was gay."

From the Crothersville Times information taken from the probable cause affidavit filed with Jackson Circuit Court:
"On their way back to Gray's house they picked up Aaron Hall.
King said they were all drinking beer and whiskey when Hall grabbed him in the groin asking King to perform oral sex... Gray said these comments caused King to physically assault Hall"

According to the court document, Garrett Gray told Indiana State Police Sgt. Rob Bays and Jackson County Sheriff's Lt. Darrin Downs that Hall and King came to Gray's residence early in the evening on April 12. Gray said they were drinking beer and whiskey on the second floor of the residence when Hall grabbed King in the groin asking questions whether King had homosexual tendencies.

It is quite clear that Hall was beat because the accused in this case "believed he was gay". Hall questioned King’s sexuality. The beating took place after Hall offered King oral sex: “Gray said these comments caused King to physically assault Hall". Who do you know that would turn down oral sex by commencing to beat to death the person offering? I don’t know of any cases where a woman has been beaten to death because she offered oral sex to a man. Please, are you serious?

“Hall grabbed King in the groin asking questions whether King had homosexual tendencies.” And the defense is “because he questioned King’s sexuality?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Gary, but I do not follow your reasoning on this one. It sounds to me like Hall was accusing King of being homosexual, not the reverse. And part of where we see this differently is in the very passages that you have quoted. It does not say that Hall offered oral sex. Rather, it says that Hall asked King for the oral sex.

In other words, it sounds a lot like the typical fighting words of "suck my dick" (please excuse the language) And yes, I have seen a heterosexual grab another guy's crotch in such situations. It is usually a pretty hostile situation at that point and it usually leads to a fight. But yes, I have seen it.

The bottom line is that we really don't know what happened here. Indeed, this whole crotch-grabbing thing could be completely manufactured. In fact, doesn't the consistency of that part of story seem a bit suspicious to you?

But regardless, I still do not see any clear evidence that Hall was killed because the killers "believed he was gay." You are concluding that through your own interpretations of the situation which, at best, remain quite unclear. And that, I would suggest to you, is one of the problems with the "hate crimes" law that you are advocating. It requires people to draw unprovable conclusions, as you have done from your first posting on this incident.

Regardless, the killers in this situation were absolutely barbaric. And no matter what role sexual issues might have played, the killers deserve some sort of very serious consequences. And frankly, I do not see how the existence of a "hate crimes" law would change that conclusion one bit.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:13 PM
"I do not see how the existence of a "hate crimes" law would change that conclusion one bit."

I'm confused, are you advocating that there is no need for hate crimes legislation at all?

J. Hill said...

"It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important."

-- Martin Luther King Jr.

David N. said...

If I may be so crass, who gives a rat's ass who thought whom was gay? Being gay - whther accurately portrayed or otherwaise - is not a capitol crime. And certainly neither is accusing someone else of the same.

I agree that if some sort of physical contact had been made that they were within their rights to defend themselves, but you can not argue self defense when it is three against one, especially when the one is a diminutive person who is not trained in hand-to-hand combat and does not carry a weapon.

And the "heat of the moment" defense does not stick with me because of the time frame in general. They beat him, then took him for a ride, then shot him, then came back the next day to despose of the evidence. This does not strike me as a spontaneous event.

I am not a gay man, but I do not understand the vitriolic reactions that are leveled at homosexuals. It matters not to me if a person is gay; it has no bearing at all on the lives of myself, my wife or my children.

It would be a true miscarriage of justice if these men are not sent away with the full weight of the book thrown at them.


Ed said...

As a Gay man living in Southern Indiana I am so ashamed of the backwards-assed mentality that makes people believe that a Gay man deserves to be beaten to death and even requires being beaten to death because God decrees it. That is what I was taught in the Church I was forced to attend as a child. The lack of coverage is atrocious. If it is okay to beat and torture people becasue they are Gay then where can I go for help if I'm assaulted?

Seth Patinkin said...

This kind of blatant discrimination can be found everywhere in fact. I am a Jewish alumnus of Indiana University, in which town I run a small landlord business. When the municipal government discovered I was a Jewish person, they perpetrated overt anti-semitic threats against me with the goal of causing me to relocate my landlord business outside of Bloomington. Among others, I have sued the Mayor, Mark Kruzan, an attorney, William J. Beggs, and the head of the Legal Department, Kevin Robling. A copy of my lawsuit is available below; I can warrant its accuracy:

Anonymous said...

They will discover who the real gay boys are once they're in jail...funny how these ya hoos never think about that before they act....