Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gay-bashing trial: Sean Kennedy's life is only worth three years

If he had been straight, maybe it would be worth more.

I apologize for not posting this sooner, but the news was practically buried. I just got an email about it. Not a lot of ruckus locally over this, which isn't surprising.

Just very, very sad.

Stephen Moller gets three years in Sean Kennedy's death at club
By Eric Connor • STAFF WRITER • June 12, 2008 • GREENVILLE NEWS

The Taylors teenager who threw a single, fatal punch at Sean Kennedy outside an Eastside bar was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison after an impassioned argument about the role Kennedy’s sexual orientation may have played.

Stephen Andrew Moller pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, admitting he punched 20-year-old Kennedy in the face in the parking lot of the former Brew’s Pub on Pelham Road in May 2007 after a night of drinking.

Kennedy’s head hit the pavement, causing fatal brain damage.

Moller, who turns 20 on Friday, originally was charged with murder and faced the possibility of life in prison until Greenville County’s chief prosecutor offered the alternate involuntary manslaughter charge after a grand jury found "no malicious intent." The lesser charges carry a maximum sentence of five years.

In the year since Kennedy’s death, his mother, Elke Kennedy, has decried her son’s killing as a hate crime. Shortly after the death, a warrant alleged that the assault was motivated by the fact that Kennedy was gay.

However, in court Wednesday, prosecutor Mark Moyer read a statement Moller gave to an investigator in which he said he didn’t know Kennedy was gay until after he punched him and that he hit him because he was angry that Kennedy had inadvertently brushed his face with his hand.
Aside: Why is it so bad to inadvertently brush someone's face with your hand?

Unless, you know, HE'S GAY!!!!

And you believe he has just infected you with AIDS? Read on:

No evidence was presented during the hearing that Moller acknowledged Kennedy’s homosexuality before the attack.

Shortly after Moller hit Kennedy, Moller called a girl that Kennedy was with outside the bar and left a voice message mixed with laughter, profanity and anti-homosexual epithets bragging about the assault, Moyer said.

The prosecutor read a transcript of the message in court, which Kennedy’s mother pleaded unsuccessfully with the judge to listen to the actual recording before sentencing Moller.

Left: Stephen Moller at his sentencing, Greenville News photo by George Gardner.
In his statement to the investigator, Moller said that he was sitting in the back seat of a car reaching to turn the radio station as Kennedy reached in with a cigarette and inadvertently brushed his face with his hand. Moyer said the car with Moller had driven over to some girls and that Kennedy came up and hugged one of the girls.

Moller’s attorney, Ryan Beasley, told Circuit Judge Ned Miller that Moller didn’t realize that Kennedy was gay until the driver of the car saw a bleeding cut on Moller’s hand and told him.

"You know that dude is gay," the driver said, according to Moller’s statement. "What are you going to do if you have AIDS now?"

"Everybody thought that this was maybe a hate crime, but it was not," Beasley told the judge. "Stephen had no idea that he was gay until afterwards."

Beasley called the killing a "tragic and freak incident with devastating results" and offered another possible explanation for the brain damage Kennedy suffered, telling the judge that a friend of Kennedy’s, who was drunk, dropped him after trying to lift him up.

"Oh, please!" a member of the crowd of Kennedy’s family and friends present in the courtroom said in response.

Before sentencing, Moller turned to apologize to Kennedy’s family.

"I live with it every day," Moller told the family. "I wish it had never happened. I never thought this would happen. I’m sorry."

In October, Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor Bob Ariail said that his office prepared the alternate charge of involuntary manslaughter after "realizing the possibility of no indictment on the murder charge ... would result in Moller’s release." Ariail said that while the charge would result in an inadequate punishment, it was the only charge that applied to the case.

Moller was later released on bond.

Judge Miller said that "the easy thing to do would be to give him five years and move on," but that he wanted to try to rehabilitate Moller with three years of probation after the sentence is served. Miller also ordered Moller to undergo anger management and substance abuse counseling, submit to random drug tests and perform 30 days of public service.

Miller gave Moller credit for the seven months he served in jail before he was released on bond in November.

Beasley told the judge that during his release Moller has been working and supporting a 9-month-old daughter.

Beasley told the judge that a prison sentence would "only hurt him" and that "there are some bad people in that place, and he’s going to be exposed to things he’s never seen."

Moller’s uncle, Steve Moller, spoke on his nephew’s behalf and said that "we wouldn’t be here today" if alcohol wasn’t involved, and he asked Kennedy’s family to work together with him to help curb underage drinking.
If you can stomach it, go to the GREENVILLE NEWS page that I linked, and read the comments.

Maybe then you'll see what we are up against around here. It ain't no joke.


Anonymous said...

It is disgusting. What more evidence do they need? That jury and judge are both sick. I guess we can expect it from the defence lawyer because these lawyers don't seem to have a conscience. I hope karma gets them all.

Drakyn said...

I covered it now.
And I gave a bunch of official Greenville phone numbers for angry folks to call. ^.^

Serena said...

It's horrible, sad, tragic... and sadly pretty much what I expect here in the upstate.

Coming from Minneapolis, the prejudiced attitudes here seem very shocking to me.

CrackerLilo said...

That is so disgusting. The "gay panic" defense is falling out of favor in some places, but I can see, not there.

I can imagine the comments, having seen what kind of much same-sex marriages are churning up. *sigh*

JoJo said...

This wicked pisses me off. Well, I hope he gets what he has coming while in prison, even if it's just for 3 years. Hopefully he'll end up as someone's bitch.

nixwilliams said...

argh, nonono. the comments. no.

ArrogantWorm said...

JoJo, I loath what the asshole did too, but wishing rape as a retributional act instead of a sentence where he actually has the chance to be taught what he did was vile isn't something that I like seeing. I'd rather he acquire some remorse and empathy for people instead of spending three years getting meaner and nastier from things that ~shouldn't be happening in the first place~ just to be released.

ArrogantWorm said...

But then, if we had better prison systems in place it'd suggest that we'd also have better people running the joint and that society had grown up a bit instead of the bullshit about 'ruining his life' from the judge and that Asshole would've gotten the appropriate sentence. Which would be a damn sight longer than what he's gotten off with.

Anonymous said...

I don't think ALL people in the Upstate are this bad, but enough of them are to make a difference. Just like the AT&T people who were replaced in Seneca by AT&T because they were gay....some things seem to never change. When when people realize that we are ALL Human Beings, and quit dividing everyone into groups of importance? EVER?

Anonymous said...

It´s time to fight back, a CALL TO ARMS to all gay/bi/les/trans people! Heterosexuals have HIV and other nasties that they spread:...heteros rape and kills women, men, children, animal..........Hetereosexuals ARE an danger to ALL!

Anonymous said...

this is so dumb. If it was a guy who punched another STRAIGHT boob loving guy the dude would have served life. but noo since the man was gay he served a couple of years and a slap on the wrist. He KILLED him intentional or not Sean Kennedy is still DEAD. While his loved ones grieve his killer is allowed to walk the streets! What kind of justice is this! just because he was gay doesn't mean he was any different from any of the rest. What has this world come to?

Anonymous said...

Funny thing is l live in australia and was googling sean kennedy who was my best friend but not this man ,he came out in high school and was treated badly ,i let everyone know we were dating just to let him enjoy high school and then we lost contact for a short time which he died in which is still a mystery. Rip