His story, however, omits the more graphic details of the crime as detailed in video-taped confessions of the accused and key eyewitnesses. There is no mention one of the accused is the son of a former deputy coroner and special deputy in Jackson County, and that the home where the beating took place and the body was later stashed was owned by his father. Or that it was that same father who served as spokesman for the highly-publicized killing of Katie Coleman just a couple of years ago. While the story notes Hall's nickname was "Shorty", it omits the fact that the 5'3" man was beaten for hours by two men who were much bigger than him ala Matthew Shepard. There is no discussion about the fact Indiana has no hate crimes law and that the killing took place just weeks after the legislature ended a session during which hate crimes legislation was defeated and the religious right had fueled an anti-gay culture in Indiana with a campaign laced with homobigoted rhetoric to defeat the legislation. A side bar to the story provides some statistical information on hate crimes, but omitted data showing the problem to be worse in Indiana than the nation as a whole. The side bar also only provides a very brief mention of the Dexter Lewis beating case in Indianapolis during which a black man was severely beaten in front of dozens of witnesses in downtown by white supremacists near the same time as the Hall killing.
According to Hall's story, his defense attorney is claiming the beating death was not a hate crime. Even the police and prosecution is concurring with that assessment. Murray writes:
But police say the evidence has led them elsewhere.
"They basically said it was a drunken fight that got way out of hand," said Detective Robert Henley of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, who took part in the interviews of both suspects, Coleman M. King, 18, and Garret L. Gray, 19. "I really don't think this was a hate crime."
It's impossible to know what the men were thinking that night. But from the start, relatives insisted that Hall, who had a daughter from a nine-year relationship with a woman, wasn't gay and knew the suspects.
King's attorney, Joseph Leon Payne, agrees with the detective's assessment of King's mind-set and says the men never meant to kill Hall. "Their intent was not to drop him off to leave him to die," Payne said. "It was to leave him out there to scare him, and then bring him back."
Once they found him dead, he said, they panicked . . .
The detective said those who cited the suspects' statements from a probable cause affidavit as evidence of a hate crime had ignored the context.
According to the document, Gray told police that "Shorty reached out and grabbed the testicles of King. Gray said Shorty then asked questions regarding whether King has homosexual tendencies. Gray said these comments caused King to physically assault Shorty."
Hall drank beer and whiskey for hours with Gray, King and at least one other man, Henley said. Hall's comment to King ignited the beating, he said, but the suspects indicated Hall meant it as a taunt, not as a sexual proposition.
The affidavit also mentions insults about Gray's mother, who had been dead several years. "There was going to be a fight that night," Henley said . . .
King's trial still is set for Dec. 18, and Payne hopes to work out a plea deal. Gray's trial is set for Oct. 16; his attorney, John Plummer III, Bedford, declined to comment.
Payne said King felt genuine remorse about Hall's death.
"It's somebody he's known all his life, somebody he was buddies with."
King's attorney hopes to work out a plea deal before his trial? One of my biggest complaints about this case from the beginning has been the fact that a case which clearly supports a murder charge was dual-charged with a lesser crime of manslaughter from day one by the prosecution. How can two much larger men beat a 5'3" man for hours, ask him if he wants to die tonight and when he replies in the negative, you continue to beat him, dump his naked body on a cold night in a ditch on a secluded farm lane and return hours later to make sure he's dead. If a plea deal were reached in this case, the accused could serve as little as 6 years for this gruesome crime.
Murray includes comments from the interview he did with me. He writes, "Gary Welsh, an Indianapolis lawyer who runs a blog called Advance Indiana, said in an interview that the case immediately seemed 'a classical hate crime' because of the severe beating and the suspects' statements." "If Hall wasn't gay, Welsh and others speculated that the two suspects intended to use a 'gay panic' defense, maintaining they were so shocked by what they perceived as an advance that they attacked Hall." "King's attorney has since said his client does not plan such a defense."
For your convenience, I've listed below a number of the posts Advance Indiana has published on the Aaron Hall killing in chronological order:
Crothersville Man Brutally Killed Because Attackers Thought He Was Gay
Hate Crime Outrage: Accomplice Charged With Class C Felony
Hall's Alleged Killer Is Deputy Coroner's Son
Aaron Hall: An Easy Victim
In Their Own Words: Aaron Hall's Killer Describe The Gruesome Details
Why Won't The Star Cover The Hate Crime Killing of Aaron Hall?
Holladay: Aaron Hall Killed Twice, Second Time By Media
Aaron Hall Killer Seeks Bail
Another Strange Twist In Aaron Hall Hate Crime Murder Case
Bloomington Alternative And Daily Kos Ponder Lack of Media Attention For Hall Killing
Aaron Hall Update: Coleman King Trial Continued