htp box turtle (we don’t link to this blog b/c of unmoderated racist & anti-immigrant comments made consistently by some comment makers there; this is part of our policy not to drive traffic to sites that include “divide and conquer” material, ie excuses one form of oppression when enacted in the name of stopping another. You can find Box Turtle with a google search)
Stephen Moller was released from a South Carolina prison this month after serving less than 2 years for the beating death of Sean Kennedy. According to the trial, Moller punched 20 year old Sean Kennedy in the face while yelling anti-gay slurs outside a Greenville SC bar in the summer of 2007. Kennedy fell backwards and hit his head on the curb; while he lay unconscious and bleeding to death, Moller called Sean’s boyfriend and left the following message:
Hey. (laughter) Whoa stop. (laughter) Hey, I was just wondering how your boyfriend’s feeling right about now. (laughter) (??) knocked the f— out. (laughter). The f—— f-gg-t. He ought to never stick his mother-f—— nose (??) Where are you going? Just a minute. (laughter). Yea boy, your boy is knocked out, man. The mother——-. Tell him he owes me $500.00 for breaking my goddamn hand on his teeth that f—— b–ch”
Despite the fact Kennedy died from his injuries and the utter callousness and lack of remorse evidenced in this message, the South Carolina courts decided that he should not only receive a minimum sentence of 5 years, but then reduced it to 3 plus time served. Moller had waited 7 months for trial and verdict, so his sentence amounted to slightly more than 2 years. His lawyers claimed the sentence was fair b/c he had never intended to kill Moller. Advocates reminded that not only was this a hate crime, in which the defendants own words illustrated how little he recognized the humanity of gay people and therefore how easy it would be for him to do it again, but also that the legal system in the U.S. has “involuntary manslaughter” to cover “accidental” murder. (South Carolina has no Hate Crimes bill and as we all know ENDA, which would extend federal hate crimes to GLBTQI people has continually been stuck in Congress & received little public support from either then-President Bush or current President Obama)
As if 2 years for killing an innocent young man was not insulting enough, Moller is now free. His sentence was reduced again for getting his GED while in prison. All though he was denied early parole for good behavior, this early release still has the community and Kennedy’s mother reeling:
Again the judicial system failed they say one thing and do something else. He [Moller] should have served every single day of the already short sentence, instead he was released from prison today, one week early. Where is the justice? (q-notes)
Indeed. A similar case in California involving two Russian immigrants that resulted in the death of Satender Singh also resulted in a light sentence for one of the men involved in the hate crime. The other, said to have thrown the fatal punch that knocked Singh to the ground where he too hit his head hard enough to kill him, fled to Russia.