The finding from the autopsy report showed death as a result of blunt force trauma as a result of beating with hypothermia as a contributing cause. No other information is being released without court order.Rumph's statement puts to rest whether the shots fired from a shotgun owned by Garrett Gray were aimed at Hall's body. According to a probable cause affidavit, Gray and Hall's other accused killer, Coleman King, returned to the site where Hall's body was dumped because Gray told King they had to make sure Hall was dead or they would go to jail. King remained in the pickup truck in which they were riding while Gray got out of the pickup and fired two shots into the woods. Hall's dead, nude body was discovered in a nearby field the next day by a friend of Gray's and King's, John Hodge. It appears Hall crawled from the ditch where his body was dumped to the field. Hodge said Hall's clothing were in the ditch where another accomplice, James Hendrix, said the body was dumped. Hodge and Hendrix had gone to the scene so Hendrix could retrieve Hall's camouflage coat, which Hendrix liked. Gray and King would later return to the scene, wrap Hall's body in a blue tarp and hide it in Gray's garage where police discovered it, acting on a tip from Hodge.
Meanwhile, Denise Travers, another citizen blogger, has been on the scene gathering additional information from friends and family members down in Jackson County. She has posted some new information on Bloomington Alternative's site. Advance Indiana previously alluded to Hall having spent some time in prison on drug-related charges based on an interview with a family friend. Travers very bluntly assesses Hall's past criminal history. "Aaron Hall was a petty criminal with a long arrest record," she writes. "He was a meth user and an alcoholic." "Over the course of his life, Aaron had spent nearly 10 years in prison or in jail, in stints from a few months to a few years." But Hall's death is a loss to family and friends as she relates:
But, like the fortunate among us, Aaron nevertheless had people who cared deeply about him. His mother, Martha. His brother, Tom. His daughter, Dae Z Mae. His friends. His former lovers. Aaron’s humble Brownstown gravesite is lovingly festooned with flowers, award ribbons, cards and a lone cigarette; the grave bears no stone yet, just a simple aluminum marker. Terrifying visions of Aaron Hall’s spilled blood will remain in the memory of many – those who witnessed his beatings first-hand, and those who are haunted by their own terrible imaginations. Regardless of his criminal status, regardless of his seemingly dissolute life, regardless of whether his murder was a hate crime or not – Aaron Hall did not deserve to die the way he did.Travers article discusses a Myspace site of Hall's. I checked the site out over a month ago based on a tip from a reader. I was reluctant to rely on anything posted there because it had been updated after Hall's death. Hall professed on the site not to want any children, but we know he left behind a daughter. She notes that Hall describes himself as a "Stone Temple Pilot looking for Alice in Chains." Somebody is going to have to help me out on what that is supposed to mean.
Travers discusses the raging debate over whether Hall's killing was truly a hate crime because people who knew Hall claimed he wasn't gay. She believes, as I do, it is irrelevant to speculate on what his actual sexual orientation based on the accused's own explanation for their deadly actions. She writes:
Indeed, all these questions point to an important distinction in reference to discussion of hate crimes: the perception of a person’s sexual identity may be just as inciting of violence to some as the real demonstration of a minority sexual proclivity. In truth, it is irrelevant to speculate on Aaron’s sexual orientation. Whether he was gay or not is immaterial: the defendants themselves, in sworn statements, invoked the "gay panic" defense. They are the ones who opened the door to questions of whether Aaron’s murder is a hate crime or not.
Travers also discusses speculation around Crothersville that the public is not being told the truth about the circumstances surrounding Hall's death. This speculation is fueled by the fact that one of Hall's killer's, Garrett Gray, is the son of Deputy Coroner Terry Gray. It is in Gray's home where Hall was beaten and it was in his detached garage where police found Hall's body nearly 10 days after he was killed. Travers writes:
As ever, the truth – if we can ever know it completely – likely lies somewhere in between the extremes. Sources in Crothersville indicate that the circumstances of Aaron’s murder are significantly different than what has been reported in local media. They knowingly imply just how much can be concocted in 10 days – the length of time between Aaron’s death and the official discovery of his body in the garage of Terry Gray, deputy Jackson County coroner and father of Garret Gray, one of the defendants. They indicate that a sexual advance was involved -- not toward King, but toward his girlfriend. They state that – contrary to sworn affidavits – there were other witnesses of Aaron’s murder: indeed, some have indicated that the Gray household was something of a teen drug haven, and that at the time of the first punch to Aaron’s body, some number of other teenagers were present.
The influence of power cannot be ignored, either. Hushed tones accompany the mention of certain names, and the ever-present buzz of fear has residents considering using false names or refusing, outright, to speak on record. In a town where so many cling to their personal salvation through Jesus Christ, the landscape of Crothersville, Indiana is ironically godforsaken. Most are afraid to go on the record, for fear that local law enforcement will remember the indignity and further abuse their power through false arrests, trumped-up charges, botched investigations and abject corruption. Each and every Crothersville resident willing to comment about Aaron’s murder has his or her own horror story about Jackson County. Many have had personal run-ins with the law. The stories of prejudice, intolerance and narrow-mindedness are legion. In a town the size of Crothersville, social capital is a powerful weapon. Everyone knows who wields the power. Everyone knows who the important families are. Everyone knows who to call to get meth. Everyone knows everyone’s family, history, darkest hours. You don’t cross those who are in power. Period.
Travers acknowledges that a hate crime law would not have prevented Hall's death, and I don't disagree with that. She does point out that if the federal hate crimes law had been law at the time of his death, federal assistance would have been available to help carry out a less biased inquiry into his death. Travers writes:
And this is the real irony of Aaron’s story: if the Matthew Shepard Act (also known as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act) had already been in place, Hall’s family could have sought federal assistance in the investigation. They could have relied upon federal examiners to carry out a more unbiased inquiry. They could have hoped that Aaron's brutal murder could serve the greater good -- that we all could learn about bias-motivated violence through an outsider's lens. Who ever could have thought that the senseless murder of a 64-inch tall man could have such a potentially powerful impact on federal public policy? The Senate has yet to vote
on S.1105 -- could Aaron's death help provide justice in the future? No, the Matthew Shepard Act could not have prevented Aaron's murder -- but it could have helped reveal the true causes.
Because, the truth is this: it is in human nature to deceive, to evade responsibility, to hate. This simple fact colors Aaron's murder itself, the coverage (or lack thereof) of the crime, the presence or absence of local outrage in Jackson County, everything. Federal hate crimes legislation already exits. Could there be a more poignant example of the need to include sexual orientation and gender in its protections? Aaron Hall, indeed, is the poster child for inclusion of gay-motivated violence in federal hate crimes legislation, perhaps even more so than Matthew Shepard. The conditions of Aaron's life, the facts and myths about his death – so much could have been discovered, were it that gays were as important as racial minorities, religious minorities and others who are already protected under federal law.
Travers should be applauded for taking time as a citizen journalist to bring out more about the facts and circumstances surrounding Hall's death, something our mainstream media has shamelessly avoided doing.
People have asked me why Indiana's GLBT community, despite its recent failed efforts to win approval of a state hate crimes law, has been totally silent about Hall's death. It has been suggested to me that Hall is simply not an attractive victim like Matthew Shepard is and so they don't want to embrace it as a cause. Perhaps that is the case. I tend to think it is ineptidude. They similarly ignored a robbing and brutal attack here in Indianapolis several years ago of a gay couple, which prosecutors described as a hate crime, presumably because one of the accused was a nephew of U.S. Rep. Julia Carson (D), who has been supportive of GLBT issues. Police say Jamie Carson and two accomplices forced the men at gunpoint to perform sex acts on each other. The victims were tied up and burned with a steam iron. One was forced to drink a mixture of bleach and urine.
It should not be surprising to anyone that Advance America and the American Family Association of Indiana had inundated areas like Jackson County with homo-bigoted e-mails urging folks to contact their legislators to vote against the hate crimes law and for the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages in the weeks leading up to Hall's killing on April 12. The religous right is creating a culture here in Indiana which only fosters hate crimes against Indiana's gay and lesbian citizens.