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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Aaron Hall UPDATE:

Courtesy of Advance Indiana

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Judge Accepts Hall Killer's Manslaughter Plea Agreement

Jackson Circuit Court Judge Bill Vance agreed with county prosecutors that an 18-year-old man who brutally beat a 5'4", Aaron "Shorty" Hall and then dumped his nude body along a secluded farm road to die in the cold should be sentenced to just 30 years for voluntary manslaughter and not murder. With good time credit, Hall should be a free man in about 15 years. Coleman King's attorneys didn't even have to offer a single witness or a single piece of evidence to win this incredible plea agreement. Aubrey Woods of the Crothersville Times describes the courtroom scene at King's sentencing hearing:

During his plea hearing, King admitted to beating Hall to death. King said he became extremely irritated and angry when Hall questioned his sexuality and grabbed King’s crotch.

That incident occurred as the two drank beer and whiskey with Gray at Gray’s home, 6420 S. 1025E, Crothersville, according to court documents. King also admitted he kicked Hall in the head more than one time after Hall was taken to a rural Crothersville area and left on the ground near Cinder Road.

King said he knew Hall might die if he kicked him in the head with his cowboy boots. King and Gray later retrieved Hall’s body from a field near where he was left and took it back to Gray’s home.

Police found Hall’s body wrapped in a blue tarp behind cabinets in the garage on April 24. Police found the body after an investigation began when Hall was reported missing by an acquaintance.

Sabrina Baker, the mother of Hall’s 10-year-old daughter, also testified during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing. “You permanently damaged her,” Baker said of her daughter. “All she has left of him now is pictures and memories. Shorty was so much to so many people. Now all we have is to visit his grave.”

King’s attorney, Joseph Payne, called no witnesses or presented any evidence or statements during the hearing, which lasted less than 10 minutes.

Payne declined to comment after the hearing.

After the hearing, Deputy Prosecutor Amy Travis said the family was in agreement with the plea deal and that she always tries to go along with wishes of the family if they fall within the scope of the law.

Wood's story omits the fact that King just didn't kick Hall in the head once with his boot, but more than 70 times he used a boot to strike Hall's body. The beating took place over a several hour period according to the killer's own confessions. It is beyond human understanding that the Hall family would accept this pathetic plea agreement. I'm not even going to begin to understand this place called Jackson County, Indiana. What happened in that courtroom today is an affront to the American criminal justice system. Matthew Shepard's killers tried to use a gay panic defense in Wyoming to escape a more serious murder charge. Wyoming courts wouldn't allow it. In Hall's case, the defense attorneys claim they weren't invoking any gay panic defense, but clearly prosecutors felt that a Jackson County jury would be sympathetic to King's and his co-killer, Garrett Gray's statement that the beating which led to Hall's death happened because of a supposed unwanted sexual advance. There is absolutely nothing in their video-taped confessions which supports a theory of manslaughter. This was a cold-blooded murder and nothing less.

Illustrating the absurdity of today's 30-year sentence for King, today a Marion County judge sentenced Robert Quarles to 30 years in prison for trying to hire another person to kill his wife. Or take the case of 18-year-old Jamie Carson, grandson of the late U.S. Rep. Julia Carson. He received a 120-year prison term after he was found guilty in 1999 of several home invasions and a hate crime attack on two of his victims. The victims were two Hispanic men who were gay. Carson and his accomplices forced the two men to perform sex acts on each other at gunpoint, burned them with a steam iron, tied them together and taunted them with homophobic remarks. One of the men was forced to drink a mixture of urine and bleach. As bad as Quarles' and Carson's crimes were, their victims were not killed. In the case of Carson, he will spend the rest of his life in prison. Coleman King and Garrett Gray will be released when they are in their 30s, or about the same age as Aaron Hall was when they brutally ended his life.

Meanwhile, there may be some hope that Indiana will join the civilized world and enact a hate crimes law. For the second consecutive year, the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee has passed hate crimes legislation authored by Rep. Greg Porter, HB 1076, by a vote of 8-3. The bill is co-authored by two Republicans, 7th District congressional candidate Rep. Jon Elrod (R-Indianapolis) and Rep. Ralph Foley (R-Martinsville). Three Republicans on the committee voted against the bill, Rep. Eric Koch (R-Bedford), Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Danville) and Rep. John Ulmer (R-Goshen). Elrod was the only Republican on the committee who voted for HB 1076.

The so-called "bias crimes" legislation will allow judges to impose harsher sentences on persons who commit crimes against a person or their property because of their race, disability, national origin, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. All but five states in the nation have adopted this legislation in some form. The religious right has successfully defeated the legislation in the past by mounting bigoted attacks, which have been focused on the legislation's inclusion of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" and give gays and cross-dressers "special rights." Ironically, the opponents claim it will infringe upon their "freedom of speech" and "freedom of religion" rights. These, of course, are the same people who are determined to write discrimination into our state's constitution against gays, lesbians and unmarried persons.

End article

Just two comments:

1) How can someone drive home to get a shotgun and then return to kill someone and that
not be premeditated murder?

2) Please, please,
please urge your state legislators to support HR 1076 and ignore any pressures from the so-called religious right.

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