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Murder Conviction Thwarted with a 'Gay Panic' Defense

Killer of 16-Year Old Youth Found Guilty of Manslaughter

Michigan Jury Shows 'Gay Panic' Defense Alive & Well

Compiled By GayToday

michigantrial.jpg - 8.23 K Detroit, Michigan--The "gay panic" defense won again in a Wayne County Circuit courtroom today, when a murder suspect escaped with a slap on the wrist for his role in the murder of an acquaintance. The defendant made dubious claims of a homosexual advance by the victim to justify the cold-blooded shooting.

Justin Wallace was convicted of manslaughter in the death of Alexander Charles today, beating a First-Degree conviction for the murder. Although there was no evidence to support assertions that the victim was gay, much less that he made any sexual advances toward his killer, the defense used a so-called "gay panic" defense in explaining why Wallace shot Charles to death. The trial took place with Judge George Crockett III presiding.

"'Gay panic' defenses are the last refuge of a scoundrel, and the last resort of defense attorneys," said Jeffrey Montgomery, Executive Director of the Triangle Foundation and a nationally recognized expert on anti-gay homicide and "gay panic" defense.

"This case is especially painful because the victim was not gay, yet his killer, raising the specter of a gay sexual advance, has succeeded in getting a jury to excuse the premeditated killing of his 16-year-old friend. It's really pathetic."

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"Unfortunately, this verdict demonstrates that the 'gay panic' defense is alive and well and working to the advantage of cold-blooded killers. Manslaughter in the murder of Mr. Charles would be laughable, if it were not so utterly tragic," Montgomery continued.

"Wallace made a grave decision when he killed Mr. Charles, now the jury has been taken-in by a defense ploy that appeals to bigotry, and has compounded the felony. 'Gay panic' defenses affect all of us, gay and otherwise. This verdict shows that the ugly shadow of anti-gay prejudice looms over everyone," Montgomery concluded.

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