An April 30 NewsBusters post by Brad Wilmouth runs to the defense of Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx, who in a speech on the House floor called the claim that the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard was a hate crime (Shepard was gay) a "hoax" and insisting it was merely a robbery gone bad. Wilmouth cited a 2004 segment of ABC's "20/20" which, in Wilmouth's words, "made a credible case that Shepard was targeted by Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson not because of anti-gay sentiment, but because McKinney was high on methamphetamines, giving him unusual violent tendencies as well as a desire for cash to buy more drugs." The main proponents of this claim are the killers themselves.
But Wilmouth overlooks a couple things conflicting with such a conclusion, which, as we've detailed, has been embraced by right-wingers in an effort to oppose giving hate-crime protections to gays.
First, McKinney attempted a "gay panic" defense during his trial. Second, he has given multiple, conflicting accounts of what happened the night of Shepard's murder. Third, he's a convicted felon and a murderer -- not exactly the most trustworthy guy.
As a Wyoming police detective who worked on the Shepard case said: "Only three people know what really happened that night. ... One of them is dead and the other two are known liars and convicted felons -- murderers."
Further, as the Matthew Shepard Foundation has stated, the ABC report omitted the contents of McKinney's in-custody interview a few days after Shepard's death. That transcript shows "an un-rehearsed and unemotional anti-gay account of the events before, during, and after leaving Matt tied to the fence," according to the foundation.