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Strangler-Murder Trial Convenes in Pontiac, Michigan

Formerly-Convicted Gay Man's Killer is the Defendant

Charged with First Degree Murder of Harold McCormick


Compiled By GayToday

michigantrial.jpg - 8.23 K Pontiac, Michigan—Willie Arthur Brown went on trial Monday charged with First-Degree murder in the May 1999 murder of Harold McCormick.

McCormick had been found dead in his Royal Oak Township apartment. Brown, 43, had once before been convicted of killing a gay man in 1979 and had been released on parole.

Both the 1979 victim, Kalvin Edwards, and McCormick were African American gay men who had been strangled to death in a similar way.

Judge Steven Andrews is presiding.

Early media focus on McCormick's murder excluded such vital information as that he was known to be gay. After investigating and working with reporters, police, and acquaintances of McCormick's, the Triangle Foundation broke the story that he was, in fact, gay, expressing its belief that the victim's sexual orientation had been directly related to the reason for which he was murdered.

Triangle also raised the specter that other recent strangulation murders of gay black men in Detroit, were similar in style and may have been related.

Brown was arrested on June 20, 1999 and arraigned on June 22, 1999 where a witness testified that he saw Brown in possession of jewelry and clothing belonging to McCormick, and that he'd heard Brown say he "hit a good lick," which is slang for hustling and usually hurting someone.

Prior to Brown's arrest, Triangle Foundation investigators swept through the Palmer Park area interviewing neighbors, sex workers, and business owners and encouraging anyone with information about the murder to cooperate with the authorities and assist in their investigation.

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Related Sites:
Triangle Foundation

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Brown had his preliminary examination on July 8 where Prosecuting Attorney Marc Barron asked Oakland County Medical Examiner Kanubhai Virani about the autopsy report.

Virani testified that the time of death for McCormick was on the evening of May 7, the same night Brown admitted to being seen in an adult video store with McCormick, wearing a shirt found at the murder scene.

"We are convinced that Brown murdered McCormick," said Sean Kosofsky, Director of Policy and Victim Services for the Triangle Foundation, a statewide civil rights, advocacy and anti-violence organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Michigan.

"McCormick has admitted to hustling McCormick, going to his home the night of the murder, and he even admitted to police that had he not been there, McCormick 'would still be alive.'

"This crime was brutal and pre-meditated. Brown targeted gay men for robbery, and murder because he saw them as easy targets. We will never know how many others he has victimized. Brown strangled another gay man to death twenty years ago. Hopefully this time he will be locked up for good." -

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