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  • Hate Crimes Special Report

  •   Suspect's Father Denies Attack Was Hate Crime

    Monday, October 12, 1998; Page A02

    FORT COLLINS, Colo., Oct. 11—The father of a suspect in the beating of a University of Wyoming student denied contentions that the attack was a hate crime, saying the victim had embarrassed the suspect, the Denver Post reported today.

    The victim, Matthew Shepard, 21, was breathing with a ventilator and was in intensive care and in critical condition at a Fort Collins hospital, spokesman Armi Hall said. Doctors said it was still too early to know if the student would recover from the severe head injuries he sustained during last week's attack.

    A vigil was scheduled this evening at the Catholic student center on the campus in Laramie, Wyo. Demonstrations in support of Shepard also were planned for Monday in Denver.

    Police said two men lured Shepard out of a bar, pistol-whipped him and left him for dead, tied to a wooden fence on a dirt road just outside Laramie, a small college town.

    Two men were charged with attempted first degree murder, kidnapping and robbery. One of their girlfriends, who allegedly provided them with alibis and helped hide bloody clothes, has been charged as accessory after the fact; the other girlfriend is under investigation while free on bond.

    Police have said gay bashing and robbery were motives. Shepard reportedly led an openly gay life at the university.

    But Bill McKinney, father of suspect Aaron McKinney, and Kristen Price, Aaron McKinney's girlfriend, said the two men accused of the attack targeted Shepard because he flirted with Aaron McKinney at the bar and embarrassed him, the Denver Post reported.

    Price, the only one of the four out of jail, told the newspaper the attack "wasn't meant to be a hate crime."

    According to ABC News, Bill McKinney said his son had confessed to the crime and did not want to live. "He's got to be punished," the father said.

    Bill McKinney told the newspaper there was no excuse for what his son is accused of doing but said the attack did not warrant national attention. "Had this been a heterosexual these two boys decided to take out and rob, this never would have made the national news. Now my son is guilty before he's even had a trial," McKinney said.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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