The death toll from religious based anti-gay hatred includes others besides the ever growing list of gay teen suicide victims. It also includes those murdered for simply being gay by those who feel justified in violence against LGBT individuals as a result of the endless mantra from the Christianists that gays are a treat to civilization, that we are diseased, that gays are predators seeking to molest children and that we are sinners worthy of death. It only takes a few who are willing to buy into this hatred to destroy the lives of others. Box Turtle Bulletin has a timely reminder of this reality as it looks at Ryan Skipper who was murdered a little more than five (5) years ago:
RYAN SKIPPER: 1981. Ryan would be celebrating his thirty-first birthday if Joseph Beardon and William Brown, Jr., hadn’t stabbed him more than 20 times, slit his throat, stole his car, left his body on a dark rural road in Wahneta, Florida, and bragged to friends that they killed him because he was “a faggot” on March 14, 2007. Jurors in Beardon and Brown’s trial were visibly shaken when they saw the autopsy photos. The coroner testified that it was the cut to the throat that killed him.The cut was 3.5 inches deep, tearing through skin, tissue, muscles and, more fatally, an artery. Ryan quickly bled to death within minutes. Bearden and Brown tried to clean the car so they could sell it. But it was too badly soaked with blood to be cleaned and they didn’t have a copy of the car’s title to sell it, so they abandoned it on a dock on Lake Pansy in Winter Haven and set it on fire. The flames only caused minor damage, and investigators were able to retrieve both of their fingerprints from the car.
Prosecutors had sought the death penalty for Bearden, but jurors found him guilty of second-degree murder instead of first-degree murder as charged. He was also found guilty of theft of a motor vehicle, accessory after the fact, tampering with evidence, and dealing in stolen property. He was sentenced to life in prison. A few months later, Brown was found guilty of first degree murder, robbery, arson, and tampering with evidence. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the first degree murder conviction, another life term for the armed robbery with a deadly weapon, fifteen years for arson, and a five for tampering with evidence