Modal close

Dear Democracy Now! visitor,

You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for in-depth stories that expose corporate and government abuses of power. Democracy Now! brings you crucial reporting like our coverage from the front lines of the Dakota Access pipeline protests or news about this unprecedented US presidential election—and our coverage is never paid for by the oil and gas companies or the campaigns and superPACs. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation—all without ads, government funding or corporate sponsorship. How? This model of news depends on your support. Today, less than 1% of our visitors support Democracy Now! with a donation each year. If even 3% of our website visitors donated just $8 per month, we could cover our basic operating expenses for a year. Pretty amazing right? If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.

Non-commercial news needs your support.

We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.

Please do your part today.

Topics

Opening Arguments Begin On Matthew Shepard Trial

October 26, 1999
Story
WATCH FULL SHOW

Attorneys in the last of three murder trials in the dragging death of an African American man by white supremacists in Jasper, Texas, are in the last stages of jury selection.

Yesterday, about 170 potential jurors packed the courtroom in Jasper as jury selection in the trial of Shawn Allen Berry began. Almost 40 of those were excused immediately for medical reasons.

The three white supremacists used Berry’s pickup truck and logging chain to drag James Byrd Junior to his death in 1998, a crime that outraged the country and led to an unsuccessful attempt in Texas to pass a hate crimes bill.

Meanwhile, opening arguments began yesterday in the murder trial of a man accused of killing a gay college student. Jurors saw photographs of Matthew Shepard’s bloody face as prosecutors began presenting their case against Aaron McKinney, accused of beating the student to death in a drunken, drug-induced rage.

The trial of the other man accused of the slaying that shocked the nation, Russell Henderson, ended in April just before a jury was seated. Henderson pleaded guilty to felony murder and kidnapping and was sentenced to life in prison.

In addition to the two men charged in the case, the slaying of Shepard has put on trial the small college town of Laramie as well as the state of Wyoming, where attempts to pass hate crimes laws have been unsuccessful. The vicious nature of the attack horrified the nation and reinvigorated the national debate on hate crimes.

Guest:

  • Jeffrey Montgomery, Executive Director of the Triangle Foundation, and spokesperson for the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, two organizations that advocate for the Gay/Lesbian/Transgender community.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.