Killer's Methodical Steps Demonstrated Premeditation
Jury Verdict Follows 'Brilliant' Prosecution Summation
Compiled by GayToday
From Michigan's Triangle Foundation Reports
Pontiac, Michigan—August 26—A jury here has once again convicted Jonathan Schmitz of second degree murder for the high-profile shotgun killing of Scott Amedure.
Both men had been guests on a 1995 TV taping of the Jenny Jones Show where Amedure had revealed he'd harbored a secret crush on the homophobic Schmitz.
Three days after the taping, Schmitz had gone to Amedure's home, shooting him to death.
Schmitz' previous conviction had been overturned by a Michigan appeals court due to an error in jury selection. Thursday's verdict thus represented the second time the killer has been found guilty.
According to Jeffrey Montgomery of Michigan's Triangle Foundation, Oakland County's Assistant Prosecutor, Donna Pendergast, delivered a compelling and moving summation of Michigan's case against the killer.
The jury began its deliberations late Wednesday afternoon and but retired for the day without reaching a verdict. They resumed their work at 9:00 AM Thursday in Judge Wendy Potts Oakland County courtroom.
Wednesday had clearly been Pendergast's day in court, said Montgomery. "Her rehearsing of the case was brilliant," he said.
Montgomery said that the prosecutor boiled the defense down to its essential element. Jon's 'manhood' had been offended on TV, she said, adding her own admonition to Schmitz, "I say, get over it." She left the jury with a challenge: "Is it too much to convict for killing a gay man?"
Cocking Schmitz' gun, the murder weapon, with two rapid clicks of the shell chamber, Pendergast ended her presentation by reminding the jury that, "those were the last sounds that Scott Amedure heard as he was staring death in the face."
Triangle Foundation officials noted that the experiencing of two trials "has obviously been very difficult for the Amedure family and we are relieved for them that they may have come to the end of the long road of criminal proceedings."
"We also are grateful," said Montgomery, "for the jury's deliberation that resulted in the maximum verdict that was available to them. They obviously paid attention to the case, as laid out by Donna Pendergast, who presented the case clearly, and who dealt forthrightly with the central issues of the matter."
Triangle activists remain "ambivalent about the second-degree verdict in a larger sense."
"While Jon has been found guilty for the second time which was the only credible outcome," said Montgomery, "we must restate that the first jury failed the broader community, the Amedure family, and most important, the memory of Scott in not finding for first degree in the first trial.
"This jury clearly understood that premeditation was at the core of this case, and that Jon methodically planned and carried out the most vicious murder of Scott Amedure. The execution of Scott Amedure has always been about planning and the elimination of a gay man whose only offense was being attracted to another man. In this case, the other man was one who couldn't abide the thought that such an attraction might lead others to think he was gay himself."
Montgomery stated that "Gay lives are still regarded as less precious than others. We still see juries that find sympathy for killers and bashers of gay people. Those sympathies, found in the first trial's jury, are what have saved Jon Schmitz from spending the rest of his life in prison.
"The fact is, we live in a society that lives by the imperative of compulsory heterosexuality. Scott Amedure transgressed that rule and it cost him his life. The first jury affirmed heterosexism when they failed to bring in a first-degree conviction."
Triangle's leader also charged that "Some of the news media, especially in leading up to this second trial, have portrayed Jon Schmitz as a sweet young thing with much promise and in pursuit of the great heterosexual dream. We have seen warm and fuzzy depictions of a sensitive, pacific young man, who felt insecure about his diminutive stature. One pop psychologist fancifully described him as "a wounded poet" and a 'gentle soul.' "
"I suggest," warned Montgomery, "that the community be put on notice and that all should beware when Schmitz is finally released. If Jon is the object of anyone's attraction that he isn't pleased with, whether a gay man, or a woman that he does not find attractive, he may kill again."
The Triangle Foundation believes Schmitz should have been "locked away for life."
As it is, the murderer faces a maximum sentence of fifty years. Montgomery expressed hope that Judge Potts will hold to that original judgment when the killer is sentenced.