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Laramie Project The

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Now, I first thought the two Kids who did this came from someplace else.
When I Iearned that they had grown up in laramie, I was just fIoored.
In Laramie, Wyoming...
...a young man is in a deep coma, near death from a savage beating.
When I first found out, I just thought it was horribIe.
Nobody deserves that.
I don't care who you are.
A college freshman was beaten...
...tied to a fence, and left for dead in Wyoming this weeK.
You'd liKe to thinK this was somebody from out of town.
Somebody who comes through and beats somebody up.
But if we're talKing about somebody who's been beaten repeatedly... somebody from our town, that certainIy offends us.
If you asked me before, I wouId have toId you laramie is a beautifuI town.
It's secIuded, you know, secIuded enough... you can have your own identity.
Now, after Matthew...
...we're a town defined by an accident or a crime.
We've become Waco or Jasper.
We're a noun, or a definition, or a sign.
-Do you mind if I tape this? -No, I don't mind.
Great. Thank you again for taking time out of your rehearsaI to taIk to me.
I must teII you, when I first heard you were thinking of coming here...
...when you first caIIed me...
...I wanted to say:
''You just kicked me in the stomach. Why are you doing this to me?''
And then I thought, ''WeII, that's stupid. You're not doing this to me.''
And more importantIy... students need to taIk.
When this first happened, they started to taIk about it.
Then the media descended and aII diaIogue stopped.
We're not reporters.
I know. I read your Iast pIay.
You did?
Gave me an idea of what you do.
Moises caIIed, saying he had an idea for his next theatre project...
...but there was a somberness to his voice, so I asked him what it was aII about.
He said he wanted to do a piece about what's happening in Wyoming.
leigh toId me that the company was thinking of going down to laramie...
...and conducting interviews, and did I want to come?
I did, I said, yeah, but...
...I was hesitant, because as a gay man....
I mean...
...a kid had just been kiIIed there because he was gay.
What exactIy do you want?
I'd Iike you to give me names of peopIe who might want to taIk to us.
I'd Iike to taIk to your students and your friends.
I want to hear from the peopIe of the town.
I have never done anything Iike this before.
How do you get peopIe to taIk to you? What do you ask?
It's stiII very raw for us here.
I understand, but this is no Ionger about laramie or Wyoming.
This is about the whoIe country.
To me, it's stiII about laramie.
The company has agreed to go to laramie and interview the peopIe of the town.
I'm scared, because I don't know what I'm gonna do to ensure their safety.
I made a preIiminary contact...
...with the head of the theatre department at the University of Wyoming...
...and hopefuIIy that wiII Iead to more interviews.
You're Iate.
I know. We taIked for a Iot Ionger than I pIanned.
What did Rebecca say?
She gave me names of peopIe who might taIk to us.
TownspeopIe, ranchers, some students. We shouId contact these peopIe first.
let's see if anybody's gonna taIk.
-Great. -You okay? What?
PIease, don't do that here.
-Where are you foIks from? -New York.
And what brings you to town?
We're just passing through.
-Is linda home? -Nope, she's working.
Okay. Can you teII her that Amanda stopped by and I'II be at the Ranger MoteI?
And who are you?
I'm with a theatre company. Rebecca HiIIiker toId her about me.
I never heard of her. What do you want?
We're writing a pIay about laramie and the Matthew Shepard incident.
Why are you doing that?
We think it's a story that--
Sticking your nose into something we don't need to taIk about.
-That's over and done. -I understand your feeIing--
We don't want any more of this. You're not wanted here.
Where are you going with this story?
When the pIay is finished, we'II bring it around to laramie.
-And you're gonna use our words? -That's the idea.
I've been cIose enough to the case to know many of the peopIe.
I have a daughter, works in the Sheriff's department.
As for the ''gay issue''...
...I don't give a damn one way or another as Iong as they don't bother me.
And even if they did, I'd just say, ''No, thank you.''
That's the attitude of most of the laramie popuIation.
They might poke one in a bar situation, you know.
If they had been drinking, they might smack one in the mouth...
...but then they'd just waIk away. laramie is Iive-and-Iet-Iive.
My dear brothers and sisters, I am here today to bring you the Word of the Lord.
In my ministry, I've found a simpIe truth that I'd Iike to share with you today.
It's this:
The Word is either sufficient...
...or it is not.
Scientists teII me that human history...
...that the worId is five biIIion or six biIIion years oId.
After aII, what's a biIIion years, give or take?
But the BibIe teIIs me that human history is 6,000 years oId.
The Word is either sufficient or it is not.
In laramie, popuIation 26,687...
...the first thing to greet us was WaI Mart.
This couId be any main drag in America. Fast food chains, gas stations.
But as we drove into the downtown area, by the raiIroad tracks...
...the buiIdings stiII retained the shape of a turn-of-the-century western town.
As we passed the University Inn...
...on the sign where amenities such as heated pool, cable TV are usually touted... said, ''Hate is not a Laramie value.''
So how did you wind up here?
WeII, when it came time to go to coIIege... parents couIdn't reaIIy afford to send me to coIIege.
I knew that I wanted to study theatre...
...and I knew that if I wanted to go to coIIege, I had to get on a schoIarship.
There's this competition that they have every year.
It's Iike a Wyoming state high schooI competition thing.
I came to the University, to the theatre department, to Iook for some good scenes.
I asked the professor, I said, ''You know, I need a kiIIer scene.''
And he's Iike, ''Here. Here you go. This is it.''
-What was it? -That was Angels in America.
I read that and I'm Iike, this is okay.
I can win Best Scene if I just do a good enough job.
So I teII my parents, so they can come see me in the competition.
They brought me in the room and they sat me down...
...and they said that they wouIdn't come to see me if I did that scene.
-They couIdn't. -Why is that?
You know, because they beIieve it's wrong, because homosexuaIity's wrong.
AII I remember from the competition is just standing ovation.
-ReaIIy? -Just....
We won. We got first pIace. One of the best moments of my Iife.
-Did your parents come? -Parents weren't there.
So why'd you do it?
ActuaIIy, if I'm reaIIy honest, I think...
...I just wanted to win, reaIIy.
It was just the greatest scene.
I just wanted to win.
Today, for the first time, I met someone who actuaIIy knew Matthew Shepard.
Trish Steger, owner of a shop in town, referred to him as Matt.
Matt used to come into my shop. That's how I knew him.
It was the first time I ever heard him referred to as Matt instead of Matthew.
WeII, what was he Iike?
I don't know.
How does any one person ever teII about another?
Matt was a bIunt IittIe shit. Know what I'm saying?
He was a IittIe guy, 5'2''. Soaking wet, I bet you (7 pounds, tops.
They were saying he weighed 110 pounds. I don't beIieve it.
I say, ''Are you Matthew Shepard?''
He says, ''Yeah, I'm Matthew Shepard, but don't caII me Matthew, or Mr. Shepard.
''Don't caII me none of that. My name is Matt.
''And I want you to know that I am gay, and we're gonna be going to a gay bar.
''Do you have a probIem with that?''
I said, ''No. How are you paying?''
The fact of the matter is, laramie doesn't have any gay bars.
For that matter, neither does Wyoming.
He was hiring me to take him down to Fort CoIIins, CoIorado...
...which is about an hour away.
He was struggIing when he first came here.
Reaching out, trying to fit in.
-I'm sorry I'm Iate. -My sister Romaine.
She was a cIose friend of Matthew's.
Matthew reaIIy wanted to get into poIiticaI affairs.
That was aII his big interest was, watching CNN and MSNBC.
Those were the onIy TV stations I ever saw his TV tuned in to.
So why did he move to laramie?
He toId me he was thinking about going back to schooI.
So I toId him, ''Go to the University of Wyoming, go to laramie.
''You can reaIIy find a home there.''
I was Matthew's academic advisor, so I Knew him in a very specific context.
But I can tell you that Matthew was very shy when he first came in... the point of being somewhat mousy, I'd aImost say.
But soon, his shyness began to give way to this person...
...that was excited about this track that he was going to embark on.
Whenever I think of Matthew, I think of his...
...incredibIe beaming smiIe.
He'd waIk into a room and just be, Iike....
He'd smiIe at everyone.
He made you feeI great.
He was just starting to say:
''There are opportunities here. There are things I can do in this worId.
''I can be important.''
I heard from Matt about 48 hours before the attack.
He toId me he'd just joined the gay and Iesbian group on campus...
...and he was reaIIy enjoying it, getting ready for Pride Week.
He was totaIIy stoked about schooI. He was reaIIy happy being there.
I can only say this in retrospect, of course.
I think that's where he was headed, towards human rights.
let me teII you something.
There's more gay peopIe in Wyoming than meets the eye.
-You think? -I know for a fact.
I mean, they're not particuIarIy....
What do you caII the queens, the gay peopIe, queens?
You know, the run-around, faggot-type peopIe.
They're more Iike the ones who'II...
...throw a baIe of hay, jump on a horse, brand them and kick ass.
Know what I'm saying? As I aIways say... don't fuck with a Wyoming queer 'cause they'II fucking kick you in your ass.
-But that's not the point. -What is the point?
PeopIe of Wyoming do not give a damn one way or the other if you're gay...
...if you're straight, bisexuaI, trisexuaI, it doesn't matter.
-ReaIIy? -That's what I just said. It doesn't matter.
I was the first out Iesbian or gay facuIty member...
...and that's in 1((2.
That's not that Iong ago.
They asked me at the interview what my husband did.
So I came out then.
When I first moved out here, I knew it was gonna be hard as a gay man.
There wouId be times when I wouId go to Denver...
...and I wouId go to the gay bars there, and peopIe wouId ask me where I was from...
...and I wouId say, ''laramie, Wyoming.''
And I met so many men down there from Wyoming.
So many gay men who grew up here and they were Iike:
''This is not a pIace where I can Iive. How can you Iive there? I had to get out.''
But every once in awhiIe, there'd be a guy:
''Gosh, I miss laramie.
''I mean, I reaIIy Iove it there. That's where I want to Iive.''
And they'd get this starry-eyed Iook, and I think...
...if that is where you wanna Iive, do it.
So I get into my office one day and I have a message to caII this woman back.
So I caII her back and she goes, ''I hear you are a Iesbian.
''I hear you are one.'' And I'm Iike, ''uh-huh?''
She goes, ''I'm one, too.'' She wanted to come over and meet me immediateIy.
She aIso warned me about the fact...
...that there's other Iesbians in this town who wouId not be seen with me.
That just to be seen with me wouId taint them irreparabIy.
That just to be seen with me wouId be a big probIem.
I Iove this Iand.
I mean...
...I reaIIy Iove this Iand.
I'm gonna make this brief, quick, just get it over with, but it wiII be everything.
FactuaI, just the facts. 10:00. I punch in, my reguIar time for Tuesdays.
At 10:30 we're having karaoke night... there's maybe 20 or 30 peopIe miIIing around.
That's when Matthew Shepard comes in aIone, he comes in and...
...he sits right where you're sitting right now, orders himseIf a Heineken.
So what can I teII you about Matt? WeII, manners...
...poIiteness, inteIIigence. Taking care of me, as in tips.
Everything, he just offers conversation.
He comes in, he's aIways dressed nice, cIean-cut.
Didn't seem to have any worries. He wasn't waiting on anybody.
He just wanted to enjoy his drink and the company around.
I guess it was maybe 11:30 or 11:45.
That's when RusseII Henderson and Aaron McKinney came in.
They come in, approach the bar, they sit here and order a pitcher...
...and as you know, they pay for the thing entireIy in dimes and quarters...
...which, Iet me teII you, is something you just don't forget.
You don't forget something Iike that. $5.50 in dimes and quarters?
It's a freaking nightmare for a bartender.
Money meant nothing to Matthew because he grew up with a lot of it.
He'd have handed over his waIIet in a second...
...because money meant nothing to him.
I mean, his shoes might have meant something, but....
They can say it was robbery aII they want to, but I don't buy it.
Not even for an iota of a second.
look, when they came in, Henderson and McKinney... me, they didn't seem to be intoxicated at aII.
They came in, they order a pitcher of beer...
...they take it back there into the pooI area, and they just kept to themseIves.
It was going on for haIf an hour...
...and then I noticed RusseII and Aaron had been taIking with Matthew Shepard.
Some people are saying he made a pass at them.
HeII, you don't pick up reguIar peopIe.
Aaron and I have been together for two years.
Aaron said that a guy waIked up to him and said he was gay...
...and wanted to get with him and Russ.
Aaron's reaIIy bad about that.
He doesn't Iike to be around gay peopIe at aII, and neither does Russ.
They just don't Iike them at aII.
So he got aggravated with it and said he was straight...
...and he didn't wanna have anything to do with it, and he waIked off.
He said that's when him and Russ went into the bathroom...
...and decided to pretend that they were gay and get him in the truck and rob him.
They wanted to teach him a Iesson not to come on to straight peopIe.
I'm not excusing their actions, but it seems to be partiaIIy his fauIt...
...and partiaIIy the guys who did it, so, you know...
...maybe it's 50-50.
They stated that Matt came on to them, that he approached them.
I absoIuteIy, positiveIy disbeIieve and refute that statement 100 percent.
I'II give you two reasons why. One, character reference.
Why wouId he approach them? He wasn't approaching anyone eIse in the bar.
Okay, they say he's gay, that he was a fIaming gay.
He's gonna come on to peopIe Iike that.
BuIIshit! He never came on to me. I mean, heIIo! Come on.
He's gonna approach these two guys? PIease.
And two, territoriaIism. Matt was sitting there.
Aaron and RusseII were back there.
Upon their first interaction, they were in Matt's area...
...the area that he had been seen sitting aII night Iong.
So who approached who by that?
He'd never not talK to someone for any reason.
If someone started taIking to him, he'd just be Iike, ''BIah, bIah, bIah.''
He had no probIem just striking up a conversation with anybody.
This is what I'm testifying to...
...because basicaIIy I'm the key eyewitness in the case.
BasicaIIy, I'm going to be testifying that I saw Matthew Ieave.
I saw two individuaIs Ieave with Matthew Shepard, and I didn't see their faces.
I saw the back of their heads. At this time, McKinney and Henderson aren't around.
You do the math.
I'm not super familiar with that area...
...which now maKes me thinK that God wanted me to find him.
I was going for a ride on my biKe...
...and I noticed something just laying there by the fence.
I think it's a scarecrow.
HaIIoween's coming up.
I think it's a HaIIoween gag.
I even noticed his chest moving up and down.
I stiII thought it was a dummy. I thought it was some kind of mechanism.
But when I....
When I saw hair...
...his hair...
...I knew it was a human being.
So what'd you do?
I ran to the nearest house as fast as I couId and caIIed the poIice.
The Sheriff's Department held a news conference today.
They're investigating the attempted murder of 22-year-old Matthew Shepard.
The Sheriff says they found the man badly beaten...
...and unconscious, tied to a fence last night.
The brutal attacK left Matthew Shepard in a coma.
The bicyclist who found him said he first thought it was a scarecrow.
In jail now, charged with the crime...
...21-year-old Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney, of Kidnapping....
The victim, Matthew Shepard... in very critical condition at this hour in Poudre Valley Hospital.
The arraignment tooK place on Friday around lunchtime.
More detaiIs about the case had come out...
...Iike the fact that the perpetrators themseIves were kids.
Kids, local Kids, that everyone who's from around here has some relationship to.
So then a judge comes in and does a reading of the facts.
The Defendants, Aaron James McKinney and RusseII Arthur Henderson...
...met Matthew Shepard at the Fireside Bar.
After Mr. Shepard confided he was gay...
...the subjects deceived Mr. Shepard...
...into Ieaving with them in their vehicIe to a remote area.
En route to said Iocation, Mr. Shepard was struck in the head with a pistoI...
...and upon arrivaI at said area...
...both subjects tied their victim to a buck fence...
...robbed him, tortured him, and continued to beat and terrorize him.
When I got to the fence, I seen what appeared to be a young man...
...13 or 14 years of age, because he was so tiny, Iaying there...
...and he was bound to the bottom of the poIe.
-What did you do? -I did the best I couId.
He was covered in dried bIood aII over his head.
The onIy pIace that there wasn't any bIood...
...was what appeared to be where he had been crying down his face.
You know...
...he did not Iook normaI.
I couId teII that he had a very harsh head wound.
You expect these Kinds of injuries from somebody...
...crashing down a hiII in a car at 80 miIes an hour.
You expect to see gross injuries from something Iike that...
...this horrendous, terribIe thing.
But you don't expect to see someone doing this to another person.
Both defendants were Iater contacted by officers...
...from the laramie PoIice Department, who observed inside their pickup...
...a credit card and a pair of bIack patent-Ieather shoes...
...beIonging to the victim, Matthew Shepard.
The thing that shocked me is, it was a pristine crime scene.
How do you mean?
The tire tracks, the impressions that the tire made...
...they were perfect because of the sandy soiI.
And we found a carpet fragment from inside the truck.
That wiII aIways shock me untiI this day.
In Wyoming, the wind's so strong... usuaIIy never find something Iike that at an exterior crime scene.
His hands were thumbs out, what we caII the cuffing position.
It's how we handcuff peopIe.
He was tied with a reaI thin white rope...
...and it was wound around the bottom of the poIe about four inches off the ground.
His shoes were missing.
He was tied extremeIy tight, so I used my boot knife.
I tried to sIip it in there, between the rope and his wrist.
I had to be extremeIy carefuI... as not to harm Matthew any further.
I was yeIIing at him at the top of my Iungs, ''Hey, wake up!''
Something, just trying to get anything out of him.
He didn't move, he didn't flinch, he didn't anything.
We roIIed him over onto his Ieft side. When we did that, he stopped breathing.
I immediateIy got him back on his back.
And that was just enough of an adjustment.
It gave me just enough room for me to sIip my knife in there and to cut him free.
And then Rob drove the ambulance to Ivinson Hospital's emergency room.
Once we saw Matthew, it was obvious that his care was beyond our capabilities.
Phoned the neurosurgeon over at Poudre VaIIey...
...and Matthew was on his way in an hour and 15 minutes, I think.
A coupIe of days Iater, they showed me a picture of Matthew.
I wouId have never recognized him.
Said defendants Ieft the victim...
...tied to the fence, begging for his Iife.
You'd liKe to thinK it was somebody from out of town...
...that's come through and beaten up somebody.
But when you're seeing someone who's been beaten...
...repeatedIy by someone in our own town... that certainIy offends us.
And that's a good word.
It offends us.
The defendants wiII remain in the custody of the County Sheriff's Department...
...untiI dates can be set for their triaIs.
It was huge.
It was herds, and we are taIking hundreds of reporters...
...which maKes a huge dent in this town's population.
laramie, Wyoming, often caIIed ''the gem city of the pIains''... now at the eye of the storm.
PeopIe wouId Iike to think what happened is the exception....
There were reporters everywhere, news trucKs in town, on campus...
...and we are not used to that type of attention.
Aaron McKinney and RusseII Henderson came from the poor side of town.
This smaII city that biIIs itseIf as...
...''Wyoming's hometown'' is wrestIing with its attitudes towards gay men.
It's tough business, as Matt Shepard Knew...
...and as all his friends Know, to be gay in cowboy country.
And to get that kind of exposure under such tragic circumstances...
...under circumstances that we hadn't even wrapped our heads and hearts around....
The majority of peopIe here are good peopIe.
You get bad appIes once in a whiIe.
Our citizens are not Iike that at aII.
You peopIe are making my son guiIty before he's even had a triaI.
How can this happen?
I can't understand how someone can even do something Iike that.
You have your own IifestyIe, you shouId have it.
-It's pretty much Iive-and-Iet-Iive. -It's Iive-and-Iet-Iive.
I am outraged and sickened by the heinous crime committed on Matthew Shepard.
A young gay man is in a deep coma. It's a crime that goes beyond despicabIe.
let it be known in the nation this is not the University of Wyoming.
This is not what we're about.
Had this been a heterosexuaI, this wouIdn't have made the news.
I don't think there's any probIem gay peopIe deaI with here.
We had these guys in jaiI in Iess than a day. I think that's pretty damn good.
Hundreds of people are urging Congress to pass a federal law banning hate crimes.
I wouId Iike to urge the peopIe of Wyoming against overreacting... a way that gives one group speciaI rights over others.
We wiII wait and see if the vicious beating and torture...
...of Matthew Shepard was motivated by hate.
Oh, my God.
Anybody eIse wanna do this?
Matthew Shepard was admitted in criticaI condition... approximateIy (:15 on October 7.
When he arrived, he was unresponsive and breathing support was being provided.
Matthew's major injuries upon arrivaI consisted of hypothermia...
...and of a fracture from behind his head... just in front of the right ear.
This has caused bIeeding in the brain, as weII as pressure on the brain.
Friday night the parents arrived...
...and I went and introduced myseIf to Dennis and Judy.
It was awfuI. Those poor peopIe.
Matthew's temperature has fIuctuated over the Iast 24 hours...
...between (8 and 106 degrees.
We arranged a poIice escort to bring them up.
We set them up in one of our conference rooms...
...gave them food around the cIock, gave them a pIace to stay.
The foIIowing is a statement from them.
''First of aII, we want to thank the American pubIic...
''...for their kind thoughts about Matthew...
''...and their fond wishes for his speedy recovery.
''We appreciate your prayers and good wiII...
''...and we know that...
''...they are something that Matthew wouId appreciate, too.''
I went up and said:
''You aII teII me what you want me to do or what you want me to say...
''...or anything you need, and we'II provide it for you.''
''We aIso have a speciaI request for members of the media.
''We ask that you respect our privacy, as weII as Matthew's...
'' we can concentrate aII of our efforts, thoughts...
''...and Iove on our son.
''Thank you very much.''
Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney have pled not guilty... the charges of Kidnapping, aggravated robbery...
...and attempted murder in the first degree.
Russell was just so sweet.
He's the one that was the Eagle Scout.
His whoIe presence was just quiet and sweet. He was raised a Mormon.
He was active in that when he was younger, as an eIder in the Church.
Of course it doesn't make sense to me. I know peopIe snap and whatever...
...and Iike I said, it wasn't a reaI intimate reIationship. I was just his IandIord.
I remember at the Christmas party...
...he was totally drunK out of his mind, you Know, liKe we all were.
He wasn't beIIigerent. He didn't change. His personaIity didn't change.
He was stiII the same IittIe meek RusseII.
Aaron was a good kid.
That's why I was shocked when I heard this.
He had been living out with his girl. They just started dating last summer.
They must have gotten pregnant as soon as they started dating. They had a kid.
21 years oId, but he's running around with a kid.
When I first heard, I thought it was reaIIy awfuI.
I don't know whether Aaron was fucked up or coming down or what...
...but Matthew had money.
Shit, he had better cIothes than I did. Matthew was a IittIe rich bitch.
You shouIdn't caII him that. It's not right.
I'm not saying he's a bad guy, I'm just saying...
...he's in the wrong pIace at the wrong time, he said the wrong thing.
Aaron was aIways dressing up big, you know, big cIothes...
...Tommy HiIfiger, you know.
PoIo, Gucci, I don't know.
It probabIy pissed him off that Matthew was gay, because he didn't Iike....
The gay peopIe I've seen him interact with or that I've heard him taIk about...
...he was fine with as Iong as they didn't hit on him...
...or as long as, you Know, it didn't come up.
When I knew Aaron, he was just a young kid.
He was trying to fit in, acting tough, acting cooI. But you know what?
You couId get in his face about it...
...and he wouId back down Iike he was some kind of scared kid.
If I saw Aaron right now, I'd just be Iike, ''Why did you fuck up Iike that?''
I wanna shake him, you know?
''What were you thinking? What in the heII were you thinking?''
This is her.
Hi, Doctor.
How is he?
I see.
Can you hang on for a moment?
Mom, can you hang this up? I'm gonna take it in there.
I'm here.
The part I wasn't telling you about before... that Reggie FIuty is my daughter.
When she toId me she wanted to be a poIice officer...
...I thought there was not a better choice for her.
She couId handIe whatever came her way.
And then this happens.
That was the hospitaI.
Matthew Shepard is HIV positive, and...
...they said I've been exposed.
They said I've been exposed to the AIDS virus.
Because I've been buiIding the Iean-tos for the IIamas...
...and I have a bunch of open cuts on my hands, and...
...I got his bIood on my hands.
How did you get it on your hands?
We have shit gIoves, you know, and I kept putting them on and... keep putting them on, and they keep breaking, so...
...finaIIy, I ran out.
You touched him without gIoves?
You cannot Iet a human being just sit there.
Don't hesitate, that's what goes through your mind.
Don't hesitate, aII the time.
So you just keep on moving, and you take care of Matthew...
...and you try to find an open airway, and that's what you do.
Quite frankIy, I wanted to Iash out at somebody.
Not Matthew, pIease understand that. Not one of us was mad at Matthew.
We maybe wanted to squeeze McKinney's head off.
And I think about Henderson....
You know, two absoIuteIy...
...human beings caused so much grief for so many peopIe.
They wanna start me on these AZT drugs immediateIy.
If you...
...if you start them within 36 hours...
...maybe that can stop you from getting the disease.
This has been just terribIe for my whoIe famiIy...
...but mostIy for her and her kids.
Those drugs, the AZT drugs.
She throws up every day.
She cries so much, she's afraid to touch her Kids.
I just hope she doesn't go before me.
No matter how you dice it, I did have the opportunity.
If I had had amazing 20-20 hindsight...
...I had the opportunity to stop what occurred that night. I couId have.
I should have Known these guys shouldn't be talKing to him.
I shouIdn't have had my head down...
...whiIe I was washing dishes for those 20 seconds.
AII those IittIe things I couId've done, and I couId've stopped this.
So what the heII was I thinking?
And I Keep seeing that picture in my head...
...of when I found him.
And it is not pleasant whatsoever.
I wanna get it out. I don't want it in there.
That's a big part of it for me, having to see that picture... my head. I just don't want it in there.
Matthew Shepard's the first gay person I ever saw.
It's Kind of unbelievable to me that I was the person that found him...
...because the big question with my religion is:
Why did God want me to find him?
''Let your light shine
''In the darKness
''Before the dawn
''No more sorrow
''In the nighttime
''let it shine
''Oh, lord, Iet it shine''
Candlelight vigils were held around the country last night.
Denver, Fort Collins, Detroit, Chicago...
...Washington DC, Atlanta....
All expressing hopes for Matthew's full recovery.
I can't stop crying.
This is what I was trying to stop.
This is what I was trying to stop.
We must do more to deal...
...with violent bigotry, hate crimes....
I hope that in the grief of this moment and in the shared outrage across America...
...Americans will once again search their hearts...
...and do what they can to reduce their own fear and anxiety...
...and anger at people who are different.
And I hope that Congress will pass the hate crimes legislation.
I thinK the gay community is taKing this as an advantage:
''This is a good time for us to expIoit this.''
They made it sound Iike it was ten murders instead of one.
They're accusing the ranchers of being unreasonabIe and unsympathetic...
...because of how he was--
And what his persuasions were.
WeII, he wouId certainIy be weIcome in our home.
We'd visit, sit down, have a cup of coffee.
What did you think when you heard two boys from your town did this?
I certainIy don't approve of homosexuaIs...
...but I don't think anybody has a right to do what those two boys did.
Where do you think that comes from, their hatred towards homosexuaIs?
I think what most peopIe fear in the gay community... that sexuaIity is their number one concern.
Not many peopIe condone it--
When you wear it on your sIeeve Iike a banner....
There's this whoIe idea, ''You Ieave me aIone, I Ieave you aIone.''
It's even in some of the western Iiterature. ''live and Iet Iive.''
That is such crap. BasicaIIy, what it boiIs down to...
...if I don't teII you I'm a fag, you won't beat the crap out of me.
What's so great about that?
That's a great phiIosophy?
I'll sit in church and the reverend will tell you flat out...
...he does not agree with homosexuality, right?
I don't feeI Iike I know enough about certain things...
...just to be abIe to say that homosexuaIity is right...
...when I've been raised my whoIe Iife that homosexuaIity is wrong.
My parents brought me up CathoIic.
I was brought up to Iove the sinner, hate the sin.
love the person for who they are, but condemn them...
...for what they do. Condemn the IifestyIe.
I wouId have to say now I don't agree with it.
I don't agree, and maybe that's just because I couIdn't do it...
...but I don't hate them, I won't persecute them.
I'm not gonna Iet this get in between me and the other person at aII...
...or in between you and I.
Not at aII.
It's preached in schooIs that being gay is okay.
If my kids asked me, I'd set them down and I'd teII them:
''This is what gay peopIe do.''
''This is what animaIs do, okay?''
I'd teII them, ''This is the Iife. This is the IifestyIe. This is what they do.''
And I'd say, ''This is why I beIieve it's wrong.''
Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!
In New YorK, the protests for Matthew Shepard turned into a near riot.
PoIice on horses were pushing into the crowds.
The whoIe worId is watching!
As of (:00 a.m. today, Matthew Shepard remains in criticaI condition...
...with severe head injuries in the surgicaI neuro intensive care unit.
As I toId you before, it's not a IifestyIe with which I agree.
You stiII feeI that way?
The famiIy continues to emphasize...
...that the media respect their privacy.
The famiIy aIso wants to thank the American pubIic...
...for their concern and kind thoughts for Matthew.
We went to the candle vigil and... was so good to be with people who felt liKe shit.
I Kept feeling liKe I don't deserve to feel this bad.
Somebody got up and said, ''Come on...
''...Iet's show the worId that laramie is not this kind of a town.''
But it is this kind of a town.
If it wasn't, then why did this happen here?
I mean, that's a lie, because it happened here.
So how could it not be a town where this Kind of thing happens?
How can you even say that?
We have to mourn this, and we have to be sad, but we Iive in a town...
...a state, a country where shit Iike this happens.
PeopIe are trying to distance themseIves from this crime...
...and we need to own this crime, I feeI. Everyone needs to own it.
We are Iike this.
We are Iike this. We are Iike this.
Not having to deaI that much with the gay community here in laramie...
...once we started working into the case and actuaIIy...
...taIking to peopIe that were gay, reaIizing what their underIying fears were...
...that's when it sort of hit home.
This is America.
You don't have the right to feeI that fear.
Do you think a Iot of peopIe in laramie feeI the same way?
We're aIways gonna have peopIe that hoId up the oId ideaIs...
...and I was probabIy one of them 14 months ago.
But I'm not gonna put up with it anymore or Iisten to it.
And if they don't Iike my views on it, fine. The door goes both ways.
I've aIready Iost a coupIe of buddies, but I don't care.
I feeI more comfortabIe...
...and I can sIeep at night now.
-I really wanna thanK you for having us. -Sure, it's our pleasure.
These gatherings, this is a recent thing for us.
This reaIIy onIy happened since Matthew.
And there's a reIief in that we finaIIy connected.
It's nice to see there are a Iot of us in laramie.
Is everybody in the company gay?
No, just the three of us.
-Are you out? -Yes.
I wasn't out before, actuaIIy.
But I thought, ''ProbabIy they aII know, but I'm not gonna teII anyone.''
In the Iong run, your seIf-esteem just becomes shit...
...and I just couIdn't Iive Iike that anymore.
A Iot of peopIe decided that they didn't wanna hide anymore.
I stiII don't feeI that free to be out here. No one's asking, I'm not teIIing.
I've aIways been out and I know how to take care of myseIf, but...
...since the episode, I've been irrationaIIy terrified...
...and what that means is, we don't Iet our son waIk around at night aIone.
Every time I see a pickup truck do a U-turn, I think it's coming after me...
...and I'm shaking so badIy, I have to stop what I'm doing.
I think it's because...
...somewhere inside, we aII know it couId happen to us anytime.
Since our Iast medicaI update...
...Matthew Shepard has remained in criticaI condition with severe head injuries.
As of today, the hospitaI wiII no Ionger offer...
...medicaI updates on a scheduIed basis.
If Matthew's medicaI condition changes...
...we wiII issue a new medicaI update...
...and we wiII immediateIy contact as many members of the media as is possibIe.
Thank you.
AII eyes are on laramie, Wyoming, today, where many are turning their focus... their homecoming parade...
...and the fortunes of the University of Wyoming footbaII team.
This apartment has windows on two opposite streets.
One goes north and the other goes south.
That is exactIy the homecoming parade route.
On the day of the parade, I had a cast on my Ieg because of a faII...
...and I was very disappointed because I had heard that some students...
...were gonna be waIking for Matthew Shepard...
...and I wanted to join them, but I couIdn't, so I watched from that window.
It was just....
I'm 52 years oId and I'm....
I'm gay.
I've Iived here for many years and I've seen a Iot.
And I was very moved when I saw the tag... the end of the homecoming parade.
It was just a group of people walKing behind a banner for Matthew Shepard.
But the parade, it went down to the end of the bIock...
...made a U-turn around the bIock...
...and I came to the other side of my apartment... watch for it to come south down this street.
Maybe 10 minutes went by.
And then I saw the most...
...incredibIe thing.
As the parade came down the street...
...the number of people marching for Matthew Shepard...
...had grown, liKe, five times.
Can you imagine?
The tag at the end...
...was bigger than the entire parade.
I thought to myseIf:
''Thank God I got to see this in my Iifetime.''
And my second thought was:
''Thank you, Matthew.''
I really haven't been all that involved, per se.
My husband's a highway patroIman. That's the onIy way I've known about it.
But when I first found out...
...I just thought it was horribIe.
I just....
I can't....
Nobody deserves that.
I don't care who you are.
But I have to teII you, the media's portraying him as a saint.
They're making him out as a martyr, and I don't think he was.
Did you know him?
No, I didn't know him...
...but there's so many things...
...I found about him, it's just scary.
About his character, and...
...spreading AIDS, and a few other things.
You know, being....
About the kind of person he was.
He was....
He was just...
...a barfIy.
So, I think he...
...pushed himseIf on, around or, I don't know. But I think he fIaunted it.
Another thing that wasn't brought out.
Same time that happened, that patroIman was kiIIed and there was nothing.
They didn't say anything about that oId man that kiIIed him.
He was driving down the road.
He shouIdn't have been driving and he kiIIed him.
And there was just a IittIe piece.
And we Iost one of our guys.
You know, my husband worked with him.
This man was brand new on the force.
But, I mean, here's one of ours...
...and it was just a IittIe piece in the paper.
But this was such a deIiberate crime.
Everybody's got probIems.
But why they're exempIifying Matthew Shepard, I don't know.
A hate crime is a hate crime. You murder somebody, you hate them.
It has nothing to do if you're a gay or a prostitute or....
I don't know.
I don't understand.
I don't understand.
November 29, 1998. We're about to interview Father Roger Schmit.
Here we go. Two queers and a Catholic priest.
Matthew Shepard...
...has served us weII.
You reaIize that? He has served us weII.
I cannot mention anyone...
...who has done more for this community than Matthew Shepard.
And I'm not gonna sit here and say, ''I was just this boId guy, no fear.''
I was scared.
I was very vocaI in this community when this happened... I thought, ''ShouId we caII the Bishop...
''...and ask him permission to do the vigiI?''
And I was Iike:
''HeII, no, I'm not going to do that.
''His permission doesn't make it correct.''
And I'm not knocking bishops...
...but what is correct is correct.
You think vioIence is what they did to Matthew?
They did do vioIence to Matthew.
But, you know....
Can I make this personaI?
Yeah. Sure.
Every time you are caIIed a fag...
...or you are caIIed a Iez or....
-Or a dyke. -Dyke, yeah, dyke.
Do you reaIize that is vioIence? That is the seed of vioIence.
I wouId resent it immenseIy if you use anything I said to...
...somehow cuItivate that kind of vioIence.
WeII, thank you, Father, for saying that.
Just deaI with what is true.
You know what is true.
You need to do your best to say it correct.
These peopIe trust us, you know. They want....
They want everyone to know that they are not this crime.
And it's more than cIearing laramie's name, it's cIearing their own, and...
...I don't know that we can do that.
-Reverend, hi. -Yes?
I'm Amanda. I'm with the theatre company...
...that's been speaking with peopIe here in laramie.
I see. WeII, Iet me teII you...
...I don't know that I reaIIy want to taIk with anybody at aII about this incident.
I'm somewhat invoIved, and I reaIIy don't feeI Iike it's appropriate.
I compIeteIy understand. I just wanted to teII you, I went to your service.
-You went to the services? -Yes, I did.
-On Sunday? -Yes.
-Did I meet you? -BriefIy.
You weIcomed us in the beginning.
I see.
I wiII teII you that I am invoIved.
HaIf the peopIe in the case....
The girIfriend of the accused is a member of our congregation...
...and one of the accused has visited.
I think they deserve the death penaIty...
...but I wiII try to deaI with them spirituaIIy.
As far as the victim...
...I know that that IifestyIe is IegaI, but I wiII teII you one thing.
I hope Matthew Shepard... he was tied to that fence...
...that he had time to refIect on a moment when...
...somebody had spoken the Word of the lord to him...
...and that before he sIipped into a coma...
...he had a chance to refIect on his IifestyIe.
Thank you, Reverend, I appreciate your speaking with me.
AII right. We better go.
I Iet him say that to me.
I Iet him say that to me, and I didn't say anything back.
At midnight, on Monday, October 12...
...Matthew Shepard's bIood pressure began to drop.
We immediateIy notified the famiIy, who were aIready at the hospitaI.
At 12:53 a.m...
...Matthew Shepard died.
His famiIy was at his bedside.
The famiIy did reIease the foIIowing statement.
They again asked me to express their sincerest gratitude... the entire worId...
...for the overwheIming response to their son.
The famiIy was gratefuI that they did not have to...
...make a decision regarding whether or not to continue Iife support for their son.
''like a good son, he was caring to the end...
''...and removed guiIt or stress from the famiIy.
''He came into the worId premature...
''...and Ieft the worId premature.
''Matthew's mother said:
We'd been up for 72 hours straight...
...and had gone home and gone to sleep for half an hour...
...and get up and come, maybe I was just way....
I don't Know.
WhiIe I was reading that statement, I thought about my own four daughters.
She doesn't have her Kid anymore.
'''Go home...
''' ...give your kids a hug...
'''...and don't Iet a day go by without teIIing them that you Iove them.'''
And then we started getting people sending us all these E-mails and letters.
''Do you cry Iike a baby on TV for aII your patients, or just the faggots?''
After being thrown into this...
...I guess I didn't understand the magnitude with which some peopIe hate.
And of aII the Ietters we got, there were two or three Iike that.
Most were:
''Thanks for your caring and compassion.''
And Matthew....
Matthew got caring and compassion...
...from the moment he got here.
The charges against Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney...
...were upgraded to first-degree murder after Matthew Shepard died on Monday.
If convicted, the two men could face the death penalty.
I'II teII you what.
If they put those two boys to death... wouId defeat everything that Matt wouId be thinking about them.
Because he wouId not want those two to die.
He'd wanna Ieave them with hope. H-O-P-E.
Just Iike the whoIe worId hoped...
...that Matt wouId survive, right?
This whoIe thing, you see what I'm saying, this whoIe thing ropes around hope.
This whoIe thing, you see what I'm saying, this whoIe thing ropes around hope.
On the day of the funeral, it was snowing and raining so bad.
By the time I got there, there were already thousands of people.
Dressed in blacK. Umbrellas everywhere.
They had two churches set up and still there were hundreds of people outside...
...who couldn't fit inside.
They had this parK set up, and the parK was full.
''Thou shaIt not Iie down with mankind as with womankind.
''It is abomination.'' Matthew Shepard Iived his Iife breaking that commandment!
If he repented in his dying hours, we hope he did, if not...
...he is in HeII aIong with those kiIIers. Do you beIieve in the BibIe?
You beIieve you're supposed to separate the precious from the viIe?
You don't beIieve that part of the BibIe. You stand there, ignorant of the fact....
After seeing Phelps protesting at Matthew's funeral...
...and then hearing that he's coming back to laramie for RusseII Henderson's triaI...
...I decided that someone needs to stand toe-to-toe and show the difference.
Some peopIe are gonna be sent to HeII!
And I think you know who you are!
Nobody wouIdn't be here if this was just a murder that the state was gonna handIe.
The state handIes hundreds of murders.
This murder is different because the gays....
He's not even from Laramie.
He just travels around the country doing these demonstrations.
So we're pIanning an event. We're caIIing it ''AngeI Action.''
This 21-year-oId IittIe Iesbian is gonna waIk the Iine with him.
Fear not!
You Iift up your voice Iike a trumpet...
...and you show my peopIe their transgressions!
We are sending the message of God!
God's anger is pure.
And God is gonna send someone to HeII!
That's God's anger!
Now, we wouIdn't be here....
Do you want your sons and daughters to be taught by faggots... your schooIs?
We're not gonna Iet that happen!
As soon as they started jury selection...
...everyone was coming into my shop with:
''I don't wanna be on this triaI. I hope they don't caII me,'' or:
''Oh, my God, I got caIIed. How do I get off?''
Just wanting to get as far away from it as they could.
Very fearful that they were gonna have to be part of that jury.
Then I heard Henderson had to sit in the courtroom...
...while they questioned prospective jurors.
And one of the questions they asKed was:
''Would you be willing...
'' put this person to death?''
And I understand a lot of the comments were:
''Yes, I would.''
''Yep, no problem.''
Can you imagine hearing that?
Juror after juror...
...after juror.
These are people that he Knows.
No wonder he changed his pIea.
You entered a not guiIty pIea earIier, Mr. Henderson.
But I understand you wish to change your pIea today?
Yes, sir.
Do you understand that the recommended sentence here is two Iife sentences?
Yes, sir.
And do you understand that those may run concurrentIy or consecutiveIy?
Yes, sir.
Before the court makes that decision...
...I understand that there are statements to be made by at Ieast one individuaI.
let's proceed with that.
As the grandmother and the person who raised Russell...
...along with my family...
...we have written the foIIowing statement.
''Our hearts ache for the pain and suffering that the Shepards have went through.
''We have prayed for your famiIy since the very beginning.
''Many times throughout the day, I have thought about Matt.
''You wiII continue to be in our thoughts and prayers...
'' we know that your pain wiII never go away.
''You have showed such mercy and we are so gratefuI...
''...that you are giving us aII the opportunity to Iive.
''Your Honor...
''...we, as a famiIy...
''...hope that as you sentence RusseII...
''...that you wiII do it concurrentIy...
''...for two Iife terms.
''For the RusseII we know and Iove...
''...we humbIy pIead, Your Honor...
'' not take RusseII compIeteIy out of our Iives...
Mr. and Mrs. Shepard...
...there is not a moment that goes by that I don't...
...see what happened that night.
I know what I did was very wrong...
...and I regret greatIy what I did.
You have my greatest sympathies for what happened.
I hope that... day, you wiII be abIe to find it in your hearts to forgive me.
Mr. Henderson...
...this court does not beIieve that you reaIIy feeI any true remorse...
...for your part in this matter.
And I wonder whether you fuIIy reaIize the gravity of what you have done.
You drove the vehicIe that took Matthew Shepard to his death.
You bound him to that fence... order that he might be more savageIy beaten...
...and in order that he might not escape to teII his taIe.
You Ieft him out there for 18 hours...
...perhaps having an opportunity to save his Iife...
...perhaps having an opportunity to save his Iife...
...and you did nothing.
As to count three, that being feIony murder with robbery... wiII serve a period of imprisonment for the term of your naturaI Iife.
For count one...
...kidnapping... wiII serve a period of imprisonment for the term of your naturaI Iife.
Sentencing for count one to run consecutive to sentencing for count three.
After the sentencing, the Mormon Church decided to excommunicate Russell.
He's got a Mormon home teacher that visits him in prison every week.
Nobody from the church is gonna go visit him?
Not supposed to. They're not supposed to pray for him.
He'II just sort of disappear.
What happened that night?
We need to know.
This town needs to Know.
I need some more Iight on them.
-I never get tired of this pIay. -Try directing it 50 times.
You can reIax, just keep the umbreIIas up.
I hear you're doing Angels in America next year.
We have an obIigation to reach our students...
...and the question is, how do you move....
How do you reach a whoIe state...
...where there is such deep-seated hostiIity toward gays?
How do you reach them?
Angels in America is just the beginning.
And guess who's auditioning for the Iead?
My parents, right, they're Iike:
''So what pIays are they doing in schooI this year?''
''let's see, Angels in America.''
''Angels in America? Isn't that that pIay?
''It's that scene?
''So you're gonna audition for this?''
And I said:
''Yeah, I am.''
Huge argument, right?
It was this huge argument, and my mom says:
''You know, homosexuaIity is a sin. HomosexuaIity is a sin.''
But the best thing that I knew I had on them...
...was that they had just seen me...
...right before this, onstage in Macbeth.
I murdered this IittIe kid and lady MacDuff and these two other guys, right?
I'm Iike, ''Mom....
''I just pIayed a murderer tonight, and you...
''...didn't seem to have any probIem with that.''
-So when's the audition? -Tuesday.
I have never prepared myseIf for an audition Iike this in my Iife.
Not even cIose.
Everybody second-guesses what you're doing.
You get a Iot of heavy criticism.
You did everything wrong.
You're not supposed to touch anybody without gIoves and protective gear.
Then they make you out to be some kind of big hero.
Some Joe BIow down the bIock, he couId have done a better job than I did.
PeopIe do extraordinary things every day.
I think this has reaIIy brought home to my girIs...
...what their mom does for a Iiving.
Just a minute.
It's the decision of the County's Attorney's Office...
...that this wiII be tried as a death penaIty case.
That's aII I have for you now. Thank you.
How can I protest if the Shepards want McKinney dead?
I just can't interfere in that.
But on a personaI IeveI, I knew Aaron in grade schooI.
He wasn't caIIed Aaron. We caIIed him A.J.
How can we put A.J. McKinney to death?
I think right now our most important teachers...
...must be RusseII Henderson and Aaron McKinney.
They have to be our teachers.
How did you Iearn?
What did we do as a society to teach you that?
I don't know if many peopIe wiII Iet them be their teacher.
I think it wouId be wonderfuI if the judge said:
''In addition to the sentence...
'' must teII your story.
''You must teII your story.''
This is a tape recording of the confession given by Aaron James McKinney... me as detective in charge of the investigation.
This confession was recorded two days after the attack.
-So, you guys go to the Fireside, right? -Yeah.
Where do you go after you leave the Fireside?
Some Kid wanted a ride home.
What's he Iook Iike?
like a queer.
-He Iooks Iike a queer? -Yeah, Iike a fag, you know?
Okay, so, how'd you meet him?
The fag? The queer guy?
We were meeting at the bar. He asked us what we were drinking and doing.
So what happened after you met him?
He wanted a ride home, and...
...I just thought, ''The dude's drunK, let's just taKe him home.''
When did you and Russ talK about jacKing him up?
-We Kinda talKed about it at the bar. -Tell me what happened next.
Drove him out past Wal Mart.
We got over there and he starts grabbing my Ieg and...
...grabbing my genitaIs and...
...I was Iike, ''I'm not a fucking faggot. If you touch me again, you're gonna get it.''
I don't know what the heII he was trying to do...
...but I beat him up pretty bad.
I think I kiIIed him.
-What did you hit him with? -I bIacked out.
My fist, my pistoI, the butt of the gun.
I wonder what happened to me. I had a few beers and I don't know.
It's Iike I couId see what was going on.
It was Iike somebody eIse was doing it.
What was the first thing he said or did that made you want to hit him?
He put his hand on my Ieg and...
...sIid his hand Iike he was gonna grab my baIIs.
When that defense team argued that McKinney did what he did...
...because Matthew made a pass at him...
...I just wanted to vomit...
...because that's Iike saying it's okay.
It was disgusting and we were aII just disgusted.
It was disgusting and we were aII just disgusted.
It was just rude, and that was Iess than integrous behavior.
We were aII just disgusted by that quaIity of defense.
It's Iike the Twinkie defense, when the guy kiIIed Harvey MiIk and Moscone.
It's the same thing.
As much as a part of me didn't want the defense saying that... was a gay bashing or gay panic...
...a part of me was reaIIy gratefuI.
Because I was reaIIy afraid that in this triaI they were gonna try...
...and say that it was a robbery, or it was about drugs.
So when they used gay panic as the defense...
...I thought, ''This is good...
''...because if nothing eIse, the truth is gonna come out.
''The truth is gonna be told.''
About how many times did you hit him in the trucK...
...before you guys stopped where you Ieft him?
I'd say I hit him two or three times.
ProbabIy three times with my fists and six times with the pistoI.
Did he ask you to stop?
Yeah, he was getting the shit kicked out of him.
What did he say?
After he asked me to stop, most aII he was doing was screaming.
Was Matthew conscious whiIe RusseII was tying him to the fence?
I toId him, ''Turn around and don't Iook at my Iicense pIate number''...
...because I was scared he wouId teII the poIice.
And then I asked him what my Iicense pIate said.
He read it and that's why I hit him a few more times.
Just to be sure?
My secret hope was that they were from somewhere else...
...that then you can create this distance.
We don't grow chiIdren Iike that here.
It's pretty cIear we do grow chiIdren Iike that here.
So obviousIy you don't Iike gay peopIe?
-No, I don't. -WouId you say you hate them?
No, I reaIIy don't hate them, but when they start...
...coming on to me, I get pretty aggravated.
So you've been approached by gay peopIe before?
No, not reaIIy.
Did he threaten you?
-This gay dude? -Yeah.
Can you answer me one thing?
Why did you guys take his shoes?
I don't know.
I'm never gonna get to see my son again?
I don't know.
He's gonna die for sure?
There is no doubt that Mr. Shepard is going to die.
So what are they gonna give me, 25 to Iife?
Or the death penaIty and just get it over with?
That's not our job.
That's the job of the judge and the jury.
The strange thing is, 20 minutes before Matthew was brought in...
...Aaron McKinney, one of the perpetrators, was brought in by his girIfriend.
-Wait. McKinney was here? -Yeah.
I guess he went back into town Iater that same night and got in a fight.
And so there's Aaron on one bed in my ER...
...and just a few beds down is Matthew.
Then two days later, I found out the connection.
Has the jury reached a verdict?
We have, Your Honor.
I was very...
They were two kids.
They were both my patients, but they were two kids.
I took care of both of them, took care of both their bodies...
...and I feIt a great deaI of compassion for both of them.
We, the jury...
...impaneIed and sworn to try the above-entitIed cause...
...after having weII and truIy tried the matter...
...unanimousIy find as foIIows:
As to the charge of kidnapping...
...we find the defendant, Aaron James McKinney...
As to the charge of feIony murder...
...we find the defendant, Aaron James McKinney...
The jury returns to the courthouse today to start considering the punishment...
...a phase of the trial that will probably last until next weeK.
I am worKing with McKinney, counseling him.
I don't think he can conceptuaIize...
...the gravity of something Iike capitaI punishment...
...but I'm going to be praying Iike the dickens tonight...
...that we don't have to go through this next phase.
I don't know if you beIieve in prayer, but wouId you do this for me?
WouId you just say, from time to time:
''lord, I Iift him up to you.''
Just do that for me.
Of course, Father.
The sentencing phase of McKinney's triaI was to begin momentariIy.
However, now we're hearing that Judy and Dennis Shepard...
...have been approached by the defense team, who have pIed for their cIient's Iife.
We understand Mr. Shepard may approach the court this morning.
''My son Matthew...
''...did not Iook Iike a winner.
''He was rather uncoordinated...
''...and wore braces from the age of 13 untiI the day he died.
''However, in his aII-too-brief Iife, he proved that he was a winner.
''On October 6, 1((8...
'' son tried to show the worId that he couId win again.
''On October 12, 1((8...
'' first-born son and my hero Iost.
''On October 12, 1((8...
'' first-born son and my hero died...
''...50 days before his 22nd birthday.
''I keep wondering the same thing that I did when I first saw him in the hospitaI.
''What wouId he have become?
''How couId he have changed his piece of the worId to make it better?
''Matt officiaIIy died in a hospitaI in Fort CoIIins, CoIorado.
''He actuaIIy died on the outskirts of laramie...
''...tied to a fence.
''You, Mr. McKinney, with your friend Mr. Henderson...
''...Ieft him there by himseIf...
''...but he was not aIone.
''There were his IifeIong friends with him...
''...friends that he had grown up with.
''You're probabIy wondering who these friends were.
''First, he had the beautifuI night sky and the same stars and moon...
''...we used to see through a teIescope.
''Then he had the dayIight and the sun to shine on him.
''And through it aII...
''...he was breathing in the scent of the pine trees from the Snowy Range.
''He heard the wind...
''...the ever-present Wyoming wind, for the Iast time.
''He had one more friend with him.
''He had God.
''And I feeI better knowing he wasn't aIone.
''Matt's beating, hospitaIization, and funeraI put worIdwide attention on hate.
''Good is coming out of eviI.
''PeopIe have said, 'Enough is enough.'
''I miss my son...
''...but I am proud to be abIe to say that he was my son.
''Judy has been quoted as being against the death penaIty.
''It has been stated that Matt was against the death penaIty.
''Both of these statements are wrong.
''I, too, beIieve in the death penaIty.
''I wouId Iike nothing better than to see you die, Mr. McKinney.
''However, this is the time to begin the heaIing process...
'' show mercy to someone who refused to show any mercy.
''Mr. McKinney...
''...I am going to grant you Iife...
'' hard as it is to do so, because of Matthew.
''Every time you ceIebrate Christmas...
''...a birthday, the Fourth of JuIy, remember that Matt isn't.
''Every time you wake up in your prison ceII...
''...remember you had the opportunity...
''...and the abiIity to stop your actions that night.
''You robbed me of something very precious...
''...and I wiII never forgive you for that.
''Mr. McKinney...
''...I give you Iife...
'' the memory of someone who no Ionger Iives.
''May you have a Iong Iife...
''...and may you thank Matthew every day for it.''
Thank you very much.
Mr. McKinney, you wiII be remanded... the custody of the AIbany County Sheriff's Department...
...pending transportation to the state penitentiary.
ladies and gentIemen, that concIudes this matter.
I hope, when you think of this town, you can see something besides a crime...
...and understand why we Iove it so much.
I'm just reaIIy gIad that it's over. You know, I reaIIy am.
Testifying in this triaI has been one of the hardest things I've had to do in my Iife.
I mean, don't get me wrong. I Iove the stage, I'm a naturaI for it...
...but the actuaI testifying is reaIIy, reaIIy difficuIt.
The Iawyers are asking you questions... you have questions that are coming at you in this avenue...
...but then you have to funneI them over to the jury.
So you funneI them over there, and what you end up with is....
WeII, basicaIIy, you have a funneIing system.
After taking the ATZ for six months, I was abIe to get a DNA test.
And it was...
...about a week Iater, I found out that I was...
...negative for good.
-Wow. Thank God. -That's great.
I teII you, we were aII on our knees saying HaiI Marys.
Yeah, you're just so eIated. We were reaIIy happy.
So what's the first thing she does?
I stuck my tongue right in my husband's mouth.
-What about your daughters? -The girIs, they just bawIed.
They were just so happy.
-And the force.... -Boy.
Yeah, we went out and got shit-faced.
I just kissed everybody who came through that door.
-They don't need to know that. -You know what?
If it was a maIe or a femaIe, I kissed them on the Iips.
What part of what I just said did you not understand?
Mom, I have aIready kissed them.
It's not clear to me, having Known Matthew...
...what story he would want told about this.
We won't fuIIy understand what happened here...
...untiI time has had a chance to fiIter that out for us.
What happened here, the culture that caused this...
...the complex set of events leading up to it... wouId have been Iike us trying to stop a tank.
Change is not an easy thing, and I don't think peopIe were up to it.
They got what they wanted.
Those two boys got what they deserve, and we Iook good now.
It's been over a year since Matthew Shepard died...
...and they haven't passed shit in Wyoming.
They haven't passed it at a state IeveI...
...any town, anybody, anywhere...
...has passed any kind of Iaws.
Anti-discrimination Iaws or hate crime IegisIation...
...nobody has passed anything anywhere.
What's come out of it?
What's come out of it that's concrete and Iasting?
''The dead wiII be commemorated and wiII struggIe on with the Iiving...
''...and we are not going away.
''We won't die secret deaths anymore.
''The worId onIy spins forward.
''We will be citizens.
''The time has come.
'''Bye, now.''
Have you ever gone out to the fence?
I drove up to the site in my limousine...
...and I remembered something to myself the night he and I drove around together.
He said, ''laramie sparkIes, doesn't it?''
And where he was in that spot up there...
...if you sit exactIy in that spot up there, laramie sparkIes from there.
With the Iow-Iying cIouds...'s the bIue Iights bouncing off the cIouds from the airport...
...and it goes...
...over the whoIe city.
I mean... bIows you away.
Matt was right there in that spot, and I can just picture... his eyes....
I can picture what he was seeing.
The last thing that he saw on this earth...
...was the sparKling lights of Laramie, Wyoming.
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