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Rep. Foxx Called Matthew Shepard Hate Crime "A Hoax"

April 29, 2009 2:10 pm ET

On April 29, 2009, in a speech on the House floor, Rep. Virginia Foxx claimed that Matthew Shepard's death was merely the result of a robbery gone bad. While his killers Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson did rob him, they also admitted they knew his sexual orientation and even pretended they were gay to lure him away from the bar he was in at the time. The most striking feature of her comments, however, is that during the course of a normal robbery, the victim is not beaten, tied to a post and left for dead.

Matthew Shepard's Death Was A Hate Crime, Not Simply A Robbery

Rep. Foxx: "The bill was named after a very unfortunate incident that happened, where a young man was killed, but we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of robbery. It wasn't because he was gay. The bill was named for him, the hate crimes bill was named for him, but it's, it's really a hoax, that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills."[House Floor Speech, 4/29/09]

All the evidence clearly indicates that this was a vicious hate crime, not a robbery gone bad.

Shepard's Killers Lured Him "Out Of A Bar By Saying They Were Gay."  According to the New York Times: "According to the local police and prosecutors, the two men lured Mr. Shepard out of a bar by saying they were gay. Then, the Laramie police say, the pair kidnapped Mr. Shepard, pistol-whipped him with a .357 Magnum, and left him tied to a ranch fence for 18 hours until a passing bicyclist spotted Mr. Shepard, who was unconscious." [New York Times, 10/12/98]

The "Robbery" Myth Was Debunked During The Trial Of Matthew Shepard's Killers. As reported by Slate a few weeks after the Shepard murder trial: "Speculation has persisted for the past year that Matthew Shepard, rather than being the victim of gay-bashing, might really have been nothing more than a hapless robbery victim who was exploited by gay activists to reap unwarranted sympathy and advance their own agenda to enact hate-crimes legislation. Statements made by one of the convicted killers, which were revealed for the first time Thursday, reveal these accounts to be false. [...]  The most significant revelations emerged from the secret confession of Henderson, obtained just three days after his plea bargain. Henderson debunked the portrayal of Shepard that has gained currency the past few weeks. Had he testified in court as scheduled at McKinney's trial, he would have blown apart the watered-down 'gay panic' defense pursued to the end by McKinney's legal team." [Slate.com, 11/6/99, emphasis added]

Detective: "They Knew Damn Well He Was Gay."  The Slate article went on to report: "According to detectives who interviewed both of the convicted murderers, there is no evidence that Shepard made any sexual advances to the pair -- and the detectives dismissed the idea that the murder was the mere result of a robbery gone bad. 'Far from that!' scoffed Sgt. Rob DeBree, the chief investigator in the case. 'They knew damn well he was gay ... It started out as a robbery and burglary, and I sincerely believe the other activity was because he was gay.'" [Slate.com, 11/6/99; emphasis added]

Rep. Foxx - does that sound like just a robbery to you?