New details emerge about suspects in gay attack
Web posted at: 11:07 p.m. EDT (2307 GMT)
LARAMIE, Wyoming (CNN) -- While friends and family planned memorial services for Matthew Shepard, who was savagely beaten to death, new details emerged about a second alleged attack by the same suspects -- who may face the death penalty in the Shepard case.
Meantime, candlelight vigils and memorials were held across the country in memory of the gay University of Wyoming student. A memorial service was planned for Friday in`Casper, Wyoming, where Shepard was born. He was to be buried there Saturday.
Shepard, 21, died at a Fort Collins, Colorado, hospital Monday after spending several days in a coma. His skull was so badly fractured by the beating that doctors said they could not even operate.
Shepard was found last Wednesday in near-freezing temperatures, tied to a split-rail post outside Laramie. Charges against Arthur Henderson, 21, and Aaron James McKinney, 22, were upgraded late Monday to first-degree murder, which carries a possible death sentence. They were also charged with kidnapping and aggravated robbery.
Two women described as girlfriends of the suspects -- Chasity Vera Pasley, 20, and Krista Lean Price, 18 -- were charged as accessories after the fact of first-degree murder.
"The two subjects hid the bloody shoes of Henderson in a storage shed in Pasley's mother's home in Laramie," according to the felony information filed with the court.
The court papers said the two young women also provided Henderson and McKinney with alibis.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for October 21 for McKinney and Henderson.
Police said robbery was the main motive for the attack but that Shepard apparently was chosen in part because he was gay. Shepard had been beaten twice in recent months, attacks he attributed to his homosexuality.
Hours after Shepard was lured from a campus hangout in Laramie, two Hispanic teen-agers say they, too, were assaulted by Henderson and McKinney, who ambushed them early Wednesday, cutting the scalp of one before the other retaliated.
Police confirmed that Henderson and McKinney were involved in an altercation with Emiliano Morales III, 19, and Jeremy Herrera, 18, both of Laramie.
The teens said they were walking to a park just after midnight -- about an hour after investigators believe Shepard was assaulted -- when two men suddenly appeared.
Both Morales and Herrera, who said they are not gay, did not hear any anti-Hispanic or anti-gay slurs, only cussing and what Herrera called "talking smack."
"Jeremy yelled, 'He's got a gun,' and he hit me in the head," Morales said. "Jeremy ran up and hit him with a stick and we took off."
Morales needed 21 staples to repair his scalp. Police are investigating whether his injuries were caused by the same gun used to pistol-whip Shepard. A bloody gun was found in McKinney's truck.
Hospital officials at Poudre Valley Hospital -- the same hospital where Shepard died Monday -- said McKinney was treated for a head injury there last Wednesday.
Shepard died just as Gay Awareness Week was starting in Laramie.
"There's no way that can be overlooked," said Jim Osborn, who attended grade school with Shepard. "If his death leads to passage of hate-crime legislation in Wyoming, it will be a bittersweet footnote in our state's history."
Of the 41 states that have hate-crime laws, 21 specifically cover offenses motivated by the victim's sexual orientation. Efforts to pass a hate-crime law in Wyoming have failed.
Meanwhile, the Rev. Fred Phelps, the leader of a Topeka, Kansas, church whose members regularly engage in anti-homosexual picketing, said he was planning a demonstration at Shepard's funeral.
Gov. Jim Geringer said he cannot stop Phelps from coming, but said precautions would be taken to make sure Friday's services are not interrupted.
Geringer said Phelps' group is "just flat not welcome. What we don't need is a bunch of wing nuts coming in."
Phelps said he had asked for protection from the Wyoming governor's office because his church had received at least seven death threats since word spread his pickets would be going to Laramie.
"We're not going to tolerate any violence from these homosexuals," Phelps said. "They are the most violent people in the world. Here they are talking about what happened to this poor boy, and they turn around and make death threats against us."
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