Keep Looking... You might see a giraffe!
*Good one, 'M'!
Seen him playing in his backyard
Young boy just starting out
So much history in this landscape
So much confusion, so much doubt
Been there drinking on that front porch
Angry kids, mean and dumb
Looks like a painting, that blue skyline
God hates fags where we come from
'Western skies' don't make it right
'Home of the brave' don't make no sense
I've seen a scarecrow wrapped in wire
Left to die on a high ridge fence
It's a cold, cold wind
It's a cold, cold wind
It's a cold wind blowing, Wyoming
See two coyotes run down a deer
Hate what we don't understand
You pioneers give us your children
But it's your blood that stains their hands
Somewhere that road forks up ahead
To ignorance and innocence
Three lives drift on different winds
Two lives ruined, one life spent
Words by Bernie Taupin and Music by Elton John
Click here to download American Triangle midi version
Press the 'X' or 'Stop" button on your browser so you can hear American Triangle.
Matthew Shepard's Murder - ABC & 20/20 dismiss critical facts in gay hate crime
ABC's 20/20 has sunk to new lows. Television news sources once respected due to their high standards are now under criticism due to a shift to obtaining higher ratings for advertisers.
20/20's story on Matthew Shepard's murder is just such a piece of tabloid journalism. They have interviewed people who have changed their story many times, have motivation to change their story and failed to put forward all the credible facts.
"This was indeed a complex murder; no one is suggesting otherwise," Garry concluded. "But for 20/20 to lay out a case based on speculation, innuendo, the avoidance of critical facts, sources lacking in basic credibility, and reliance on conflicting pieces of information is reckless journalism." - GLAAD Executive Director Joan M. Garry
Matthew Shepard's story is only one case of hate motivated crimes against gays in the United States. Many more equally horrific cases have been prosecuted since and many more are being swept into the proverbial closet.
Homophobia is the largest health issue facing gays in the United States, Canada and around the world. ABC's 20/20 has made it okay to continue to ignore the dangers of being gay in this case, the United Sates.
Click here for GLAAD's link to emailing ABC
I was blown away by this version of the Dicken's classic! Hope you didn't miss it!
Ebenezer Scrooge is back, grumping and grumbling through Victorian London and a new movie.
He's singing, but don't let that fool you. "A Christmas Carol: The Musical" aims for the emotional core.
"It's a story of how life can steer a man wrong and love can steer him right again," says Kelsey Grammer, who stars.
In between all that steering, people sing -- a lot.
The source is a Madison Square Garden show. It includes music by Oscar winner Alan Menken ("Beauty and the Beast") and lyrics by Tony winner Lynn Ahrens ("Ragtime").
The songs are fine, Grammer says, but the show tends to be big and broad. "You can't do intimacy in the Garden. It's like doing card tricks to a passing train."
So a hybrid was concocted.
The musical numbers remain, leaping through a pretend village near Budapest, Hungary. The story, however, leans toward the serious intentions of author Charles Dickens.
"This was the book he had been wanting to write all along," Peter Ackroyd wrote in his extensive 1990 biography Dickens. "This powerful Christmas tale, which has achieved a kind of immortality, was born out of the conditions of the times."
So Dickens had the rich Scrooge visited by spirits. The film features:
*Jason Alexander ("Seinfeld") as Jacob Marley and Jane Krakowski ("Ally McBeal") as the Ghost of Christmas Past.
*Jesse L. Martin ("Law & Order") as the Ghost of Christmas Present.
*Geraldine Chaplin as the Ghost of Christmas Future and as a scary street person.
This new version puts its songs over a serious core, Grammer says. "The Tiny Tim character represents for me all the hopes of childhood. It was the childhood that had been taken away from Scrooge."
Grammer has known some of those extremes in his own life.
His father left when Kelsey was 18 months old. The family moved in with their mother's parents.
It's logical Grammer relates to Ebenezer Scrooge -- a man whose childhood was cut short and whose sister died. "It was almost impossible for me to get through a scene without crying."
In real life, Grammer is richer than Ebenezer. He says he's avoided all Scrooge-like impulses. "The Bible says that to whom much is given, much is expected."
Can you guess which of the following are true and which are false?
1. Apples, not caffeine, are more efficient at waking you up in the morning.
2. Alfred Hitchcock didn't have a belly button.
3. A pack-a-day smoker will lose approximately 2 teeth every 10 years.
4.People do not get sick from cold weather; it's from being indoors a lot more.
5. When you sneeze, all bodily functions stop, even your heart!
6. Only 7 per cent of the population are lefties.
7. Forty people are sent to the hospital for dog bites every minute.
8. Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until they are 2-6 years old.
9. The average person over 50 will have spent 5 years waiting in lines.
10. The toothbrush was invented in 1498.
11. The average housefly lives for one month.
12. 40,000 Americans are injured by toilets each year.
13. A coat hanger is 44 inches long when straightened.
14. The average computer user blinks 7 times a minute.
15. Your feet are bigger in the afternoon than any other time of day.
16. Most of us have eaten a spider in our sleep.
17. The REAL reason ostriches stick their head in the sand is to search for water.
18. The only two animals that can see behind themselves without turning their heads are the rabbit and the parrot.
19. John Travolta turned down the starring roles in "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "Tootsie".
20. Michael Jackson owns the rights to the South Carolina State anthem.
21. In most television commercials advertising milk, a mixture of white paint and a little thinner is used in place of the milk.
22. Prince Charles and Prince William NEVER travel on the same airplane, just in case there is a crash.
23. The first Harley Davidson motorcycle built in 1903 used a tomato can for a carburetor.
24. Most hospitals make money by selling the umbilical cords cut from women who give birth. They are used in vein transplant surgery.
25. Humphrey Bogart was related to Princess Diana. They were 7th cousins.
26. If coloring weren't added to Coca-Cola, it would be green.
They are all true.
Now go back and think about! #16
Gay Anti-Violence Programs Decry ABC News Segment on Shepard Murder
New York – Responding to the imminent airing of an ABC News 20/20 segment on the murder of Matthew Shepard, representatives of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) called the segment "irresponsible," "biased," "shameful," and "destructive." (Program has already aired... I thought this should be posted just the same...)
To read further on this, Click here.
(Lagos, Nigeria) An Islamic court has issued an arrest warrant for a middle-aged man accused of having gay sex. If caught and convicted the Sharia court in Keffi could sentence him to death by stoning
The warrant was issued for Michael Ifediora Nwokoma after neighbors alleged he was gay and was having sex with with another man. That person was identified in the Nigerian media as a local businessman named Mallam Abdullahi Ibrahim.
Ibrahim was charged but Nwokoma escaped before police could arrest him.
Press reports say that Ibrahim was nearly lynched by police in the process of getting him to confess. He was spared only when the district commander intervened.
He is charged with the “unholy” act of "homosexualism". If convicted Ibrahim also could face death by stoning.
Sharia courts have a wide latitude in Nigeria and usually exact the maximum penalties under strict Islamic law.
Ibrahim remains in jail until police find Nwokomah. The court ruled that until Nwokomah is arrested Ibrahim cannot be tried. The court decided that no mater how long it takes to find Nwokomah, Ibrahim will remain behind bars.
Little Tony on Math
A teacher asks her class, "If there are 5 birds sitting on a fence and you shoot one of them, how many will be left?" She calls on little TONY. He replies, "None, they will all fly away with the first gunshot." The teacher replies, "The correct answer is 4, but I like your thinking."
Then little TONY says, "I have a question for YOU. There are 3 women sitting on a bench having ice cream: One is delicately licking the sides of the triple scoop of ice cream. The second is gobbling down the top and sucking the cone. The third is biting off the top of the ice cream. Whichone is married?"
The teacher, blushing a great deal, replied, "Well, I suppose the one that's gobbled down the top and sucked the cone." To which Little TONY replied, "The correct answer is 'the one with the wedding ring on', but I like your thinking."
LITTLE TONY ON MATH
Little TONY returns from school and says he got an F in arithmetic. "Why?" asks the father? "The teacher asked 'How much is 2x3', I said '6'", replies TONY. "But that's right!" says his dad. "Yeah, but then she asked me 'How much is 3x2?'" "What's the fucking difference?" asks the father. "That's what I said!"
LITTLE TONY ON ENGLISH
Little TONY goes to school, and the teacher says, "Today we are going to learn multi-syllable words, class. Does anybody have an example of a multi-syllable word?" TONY says "Mas-tur-bate." Miss Rogers smiles and says, "Wow, little TONY, that's a mouthful." Little TONY says, "No, Miss Rogers, you're thinking of a blowjob."
LITTLE TONY ON GRAMMAR
Little TONY was sitting in class one day. All of a sudden, he needed to go to the bathroom. He yelled out, "Miss Jones, I need to take a piss!! The teacher replied, "Now, TONY, that is NOT the proper word to use in this situation. The correct word you want to use is 'urinate'. Please use the word 'ur-i-nate' in a sentence correctly, and I will allow you to go."
Little TONY, thinks for a bit, and then says, "You're an eight, but if you had bigger tits, you'd be a TEN!"
LITTLE TONY ON GRAMMAR
One day, during lessons on proper grammar, the teacher asked for a show of hands from those who could use the word "beautiful" in the same sentence twice. First, she called on little Suzie, who responded with, "My father bought my mother a beautiful dress and she looked beautiful in it." "Very good, Suzie," replied the teacher. She then called on little Michael. "My mommy planned a beautiful banquet and it turned out beautifully." She said, "Excellent, Michael!" Then the teacher reluctantly called on little TONY. "Last night at the dinner table, my sister told my father that she was pregnant, and he said 'Beautiful, just fucking beautiful!'"
LITTLE TONY ON GETTING OLDER
Little TONY was sitting on a park bench munching on one candy bar after another. After the 6th one a man on the bench across from him said, "Son, you know eating all that candy isn't good for you. It will give you acne, rot your teeth, and make you fat." Little TONY replied, "My grandfather lived to be 107 years old." The man asked, "Did your grandfather eat 6 candy bars at a time?" Little TONY answered, "No, he minded his own fucking business."
Penis Requests a Raise
I, the penis, hereby request a raise in salary for the following reasons:
I do physical labor
I work at great depths
I plunge head first into everything I do
I do not get weekends off or public holidays
I work in a damp environment
I don't get paid overtime
I work in a dark workplace that has poor ventilation
I work in high temperatures
My work exposes me to contagious diseases
After assessing your request, and considering the arguments you have raised, the administration rejects your request for the following reasons:
You do not work 8 hours straight
You fall asleep on the job after brief work period
You do not always follow the orders of the management team
You do not stay in your allocated position, and often visit other areas
You do not take initiative - you need to be pressured and stimulated in order to start working
You leave the workplace rather messy at the end of your shift
You don't always observe necessary safety regulations, such as wearing the correct protective clothing
You'll retire well before reaching 65
You're unable to work double shifts
You sometimes leave your allocated position before you have completed the day's work. And if that were not
all, you have been seen constantly entering and leaving the workplace carrying 2 suspicious looking bags.
A couple had two little mischievous boys, ages 8 and 10. They were always getting into trouble, and their parents knew that if any mischief occurred in their town, their sons would get the blame.
The boys' mother heard that a clergyman in town had been successful in disciplining children, so she asked if he would speak with her boys. The clergyman agreed and asked to see them individually.
So, the mother sent her 8-year-old first, in the morning, with the older boy to see the clergyman in the afternoon.
The clergyman, a huge man with a booming voice, sat the younger boy down and asked him sternly, "Where is God?"
They boy's mouth dropped open, but he made no response, sitting there with his mouth hanging open.
The clergyman repeated the question. "Where is God?"
Again, the boy made no attempt to answer.
So, the clergyman raised his voice some more and shook his finger in the boy's face and bellowed, "Where is God!?"
The boy screamed and bolted from the room. He ran directly home and dove into his closet, slamming the door behind him.
When his older brother found him in the closet, he asked, "What happened?"
The younger brother, gasping for breath, replied: "We are in real BIG trouble this time! God is missing, and they think we did it!"
Remember the guy who got on a plane with a bomb built into his shoe and tried to light it?
Did you know his trial is over?
Did you know he was sentenced?
Did you see/hear any of the judge's comments on TV/Radio?
Didn't think so.
Everyone should hear what the judge had to say.
Ruling by Judge William Young U.S. District Court.
Prior to sentencing, the Judge asked the defendant if he had anything to say.
After admitting his guilt to the court for the record, Reid also admitted is "allegiance to Osama bin Laden, to Islam, and to the religion of Allah," defiantly stated "I think I ought not apologize for my actions," and told the court "I am at war with your country."
Judge Young then delivered the statement quoted below, a stinging condemnation of Reid in particular and terrorists in general:
January 30, 2003 United States vs. Reid. Judge Young:
Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes upon you. On counts 1, 5 and 6 the Court sentences you to life in prison in the custody of the United States Attorney General.
On counts 2, 3, 4 and 7, the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count, the sentence on each count to run consecutive with the other. That's 80 years.
On count 8 the Court sentences you to the mandatory 30 years consecutive to the 80 years just imposed. The Court imposes upon you each of the eight counts a fine of $250,000 for the aggregate fine of $2 million. The Court accepts the government's recommendation with respect to restitution and orders restitution in the amount of $298.17 to Andre Bousquet and $5,784 to American Airlines. The Court imposes upon you the $800 special assessment.
The Court imposes upon you five years supervised release simply because the law requires it. But the life sentences are real life sentences so I need go no further. This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence. Let me explain this to you.
We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is all too much war talk here and I say that to everyone with the utmost respect.
Here in this court, where we deal with individuals as individuals and care for individuals as individuals. As human beings, we reach out for justice.
You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist.
You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist.
To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature. Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or that happens to be your view, you are a terrorist... And we do not negotiate with terrorists.
We do not treat with terrorists.
We do not sign documents with terrorists.
We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice. So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You're no warrior. I know warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were and he said you're no big deal. You're no big deal.
What your counsel, what your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how, have tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today?
I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty of and admit you are guilty of doing. And I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you, but as I search this entire record, it comes as close to understanding as I know.
It seems to me you hate the one thing that is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose. Here, in this society, the very winds carry freedom. They carry it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see, that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely. It is for freedom's sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals, will go on in their representation of you before other judges. We are about it. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties.
Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms. Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow, it will be forgotten, but this, however, will long endure. Here in this courtroom and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice,
individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done.
The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.
See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. You know it always will.
Mr. Custody Officer. Stand him down.
So, how much of this Judge's comments did we hear on our TV sets? We need more judges like Judge Young, but that's another subject.
Pass this around.
Everyone needs to hear what this fine judge had to say. Powerful words that strike home.
..everyone should read this!
A blind man enters a Ladies Bar by mistake. He finds his way to a barstool and orders a drink. After sitting there for a while, he yells to the bartender,
"Hey, you wanna hear a blonde joke?" The bar immediately falls absolutely quiet.
In a very deep, husky voice, the woman next to him says,
"Before you tell that joke, sir, I think it is just fair - given that you are blind -that you should know five things:
1. The bartender is a blonde girl.
2. The bouncer is a blonde girl.
3. I'm a 6 feet tall, 180-pound blonde woman with a black belt in karate.
4. The woman sitting next to me is blonde and is a professional weight lifter.
5. The lady to your right is a blonde and is a professional wrestler.
Now think about it seriously, Mister. Do you still wanna tell that joke?"
The blind man thinks for a second, shakes his head, and declares, "Nah. not if I'm gonna have to explain it five times."
Thanks, Auntie 'M'!
I feel like my body has gotten totally out of shape, so I got my doctor's permission to join a fitness club and start exercising. I decided to take an aerobics class for seniors. I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for an hour. But, by the time I got my leotards on, the class was over.
Reporters interviewing a 104 year-old woman: "And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?" the reporter asked. She simply replied, "No peer pressure."
The nice thing about being senile is you can hide your own Easter eggs.
Just before the funeral services, the undertaker came up to the very elderly widow and asked, "How old was your husband?" "98," she replied. "Two years older than me." "So you're 96," the undertaker commented. She responded, "Hardly worth going home is it?"
I've sure gotten old. I've had 2 By-pass surgeries. A hip replacement, new knees. Fought prostate cancer, and diabetes. I'm half blind, can't hear anything quieter than a jet engine, take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts. Have bouts with dementia. Have poor circulation, hardly feel my hands and feet anymore. Can't remember if I'm 85 or 92. Have lost all my friends. But..... Thank God, I still have my driver's license!
A 97 year old man goes into his doctor's office and says, "Doc, I want my sex drive lowered." "Sir," replied the doctor, "You're 97. Don't you think your sex drive is all in your head?" "You're damned right it is!" replied the old man. "That's why I want it lowered!"
An elderly woman from Brooklyn decided to prepare her will and make her final requests. She told her rabbi she had two final requests. First, she wanted to be cremated, and second, she wanted her ashes scattered over Bloomingdales.
"Bloomingdales?" the rabbi exclaimed. "Why Bloomingdales?" Then I'll be sure my daughters visit me twice a week
(ABC NEWS)— Six years ago, on a cold October night on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyo., 21-year-old gay college student Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten, tied to a fence and left for dead. He was found 18 hours later and rushed to the hospital, where he lingered on the edge of death for nearly five days before succumbing to his injuries.
In an exclusive interview with 20/20's Elizabeth Vargas,
Russell Henderson, left, and Aaron McKinney talk about the 1998
slaying of Matthew Shepard. (ABC News)
The story garnered national attention when the attack was characterized as a hate crime. But Shepard's killers, in their first interview since their convictions, tell "20/20's" Elizabeth Vargas that money and drugs motivated their actions that night, not hatred of gays.
While Shepard lay unconscious in a hospital, the national press quickly arrived in Laramie. Cal Rerucha, who prosecuted the case, told Vargas the media descended on Laramie "like locusts."
"We knew in the newsroom the day it happened, this is going to be a huge story, this is going to attract international interest," said Jason Marsden of "The Casper Star-Tribune."
"I remember one of my fellow reporters saying, 'this kid is going to be the new poster child for gay rights," he added. News of Shepard's death sparked reaction overseas and demonstrations across America.
"I think a lot of gay people, when they first heard of that horrifying event, felt sort of punched in the stomach. I mean it kind of encapsulated all our fears of being victimized," said writer Andrew Sullivan, a prominent gay rights advocate.
But as the push for gay rights found new force, so did a corresponding backlash from anti-gay opponents who came from out of state to grab a piece of the media spotlight.
Tensions were so high that Shepard's father wore a bulletproof vest under his suit when he spoke at his son's funeral service.
"The saddest part of this whole case was at Matthew's funeral, when they, these people, refused to let Matthew be buried with dignity," said Rerucha. "I never saw people that could hate so much."
Killers Both Receive Two Consecutive Life Sentences
Local residents Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, both 21 at the time, were charged with Shepard's murder. Henderson's case came before the court first. To avoid the possibility of receiving the death penalty, he pleaded guilty to murder and kidnapping and received two consecutive life terms in prison.
McKinney's case went to trial a year after Shepard's death. He was convicted of felony murder, aggravated robbery and kidnapping. Before the jury was about to decide his sentence, he, too, reached a deal that allowed him to avoid a possible death penalty. Both men are serving double life sentences in prison.
Authorities asked "20/20" not to disclose the prison location.
While McKinney and Henderson admit to killing Shepard, both men — and the man who prosecuted the case — now say the real story is not what it seemed.
Many area residents were shocked that the crime was committed by two young men from their community. But both McKinney and Henderson came from classically troubled backgrounds.
Henderson was born to a teenage alcoholic and raised without a father. He says he saw his mother being beaten up by a series of boyfriends, some of whom also assaulted Henderson.
McKinney's childhood, too, was less than picture-perfect. His father, a long-haul trucker, was rarely home and eventually divorced McKinney's mother, a nurse who later died as a result of a botched surgery. McKinney received a malpractice settlement of nearly $100,000 after his mother's death. He says he spent most of that money on things like cars and drugs.
McKinney admits to Vargas that by the time he was 18 he had a serious methamphetamine habit.
Shepard Haunted by Own Difficulties
Despite his strong family life, Shepard had troubles of his own. His mother, Judy Shepard, says her son's problems had started three years earlier during a high school trip to Morocco, where he was beaten and raped.
"It made him pull within himself. He became withdrawn, depression, panic attacks," she said.
Some of Shepard's friends say he was still a troubled young man when he enrolled at the University of Wyoming in the fall of 1998.
Tom O'Connor, known as "Doc," who ran a limousine service and sometimes drove Shepard, said just days before Shepard's death, Matt told him he was HIV-positive and was considering suicide.
One of Shepard's college friends, Tina LaBrie, was concerned that Shepard's depression might be somehow connected to involvement with drugs. "He said 'Everywhere I move, it seems like I get sucked into the drug scene,'" LaBrie told Vargas.
Laramie's Dangerous World of Methamphetamine
As a heavy user and a dealer, McKinney was well-known with the methamphetamine crowd, according to Ryan Bopp, who was one of McKinney's friends and drug associates at the time. By the fall of 1998, McKinney had blown through his inheritance and was now the parent of a new baby with his girlfriend, Kristen Price.
"I think he was really torn because it is the desperation of getting your fix or taking care of your family," Price said. In the days leading up to the attack on Shepard, she said, McKinney was using methamphetamine every day.
Bopp, who says he left Laramie and the drug world behind six years ago, told "20/20" that he and McKinney had been on a drug binge in the week leading up to the attack on Shepard.
"Aaron and I had been awake for about a week or so prior to this whole thing happening ," Bopp said. "We were on a hard-core bender that week."
Bopp also admits that a week before the murder he was so desperate for methamphetamine, that he traded McKinney a .357-Magnum pistol in exchange for one gram of methamphetamine. McKinney would later use that weapon to beat Shepard.
The Night of the Crime
McKinney told Vargas he set out the night of Oct. 6, 1998, to rob a drug dealer of $10,000 worth of methamphetamine. But after several attempts, McKinney was not able to carry out his plan.
Henderson said he thought if he could keep McKinney drinking, he'd forget the robbery plan.
But according to McKinney, when he encountered Shepard at the Fireside Lounge, he saw an easy mark.
McKinney told "20/20" Shepard was well-dressed and assumed he had a lot of cash.
Shepard was sitting at the bar, McKinney recalls. "He said he was too drunk to go home. And then he asked me if I'd give him a ride. So I thought, yeah, sure, what the hell," according to McKinney.
All three got in the front seat of McKinney's pickup, and Henderson took the wheel. McKinney told police that at some point Shepard reached over and grabbed his leg. In response, McKinney said, he hit him with his pistol. "I was getting ready to pull it on him anyway," he said.
McKinney says he asked for, and got, Shepard's wallet, which had only $30 in it. But even though Shepard handed over his money, McKinney continued beating him.
When pressed by Vargas as to why he continued beating Shepard after he had already taken his wallet, McKinney said, "Sometimes when you have that kind of rage going through you, there's no stopping it. I've attacked my best friends coming off of meth binges."
McKinney says he directed Henderson to drive the truck to a secluded spot on the outskirts of Laramie so they could leave Shepard and have time to get away. They stopped at a wooden buck fence and took Shepard from the truck.
On McKinney's instructions, Henderson got a rope from the truck and tied Shepard to a fence post. Henderson claims at some point he tried, but failed, to stop McKinney from beating Shepard further.
In a statement to the court, Henderson said McKinney struck him across the face with the gun when he tried to stop the continued beating of Shepard.
Henderson retreated to the truck, leaving McKinney alone with Shepard at the fence. McKinney tells "20/20" he fears these last blows he dealt Shepard at the fence were the fatal blows.
New Fracas Leads to Arrest
McKinney took Shepard's wallet and his shoes, got back in the truck and told Henderson to drive to town. He says his plan was to burglarize Shepard's apartment. But when they parked the truck they encountered two young men who police say were vandalizing cars. Hostile words led to a fight and for the second time that night, McKinney went on the attack.
One of the men was struck so hard his skull was fractured. The injured man's friend retaliated, slamming McKinney in the head with a small bat. Everyone fled, just before a police car happened on the scene.
Sgt. Flint Waters gave chase and grabbed Henderson. Then he discovered some key evidence that would later be used to link Henderson and McKinney to the attack on Shepard.
"I looked in the back of the truck and laying in the back of the truck was a large-frame revolver. The thing was huge, like an 8-inch barrel that had blood all over it. And there was some rope and a coat in the truck; there was I believe a shoe sitting in the front. … Seeing that the gun covered in blood, I assumed that there was a lot more going on than what we'd stumbled onto so far," he said.
With that much evidence and McKinney's later confession, the attack on Shepard was not a hard case to solve. McKinney and Henderson were charged with murder. The mystery in this story was not who did it, but why?
Shepard's Friends Suspect Attack Was Hate-Motivated
Just hours after Shepard's battered body was discovered, and before anyone knew who had beaten him, Shepard's friends Walt Boulden and Alex Trout began spreading the word that Shepard was openly gay and that they were concerned the attack may have been a gay-bashing.
Boulden told "20/20" in an interview shortly after the attack in 1998, "I know in the core of my heart it happened because he revealed he was gay. And it's chilling. They targeted him because he was gay."
Prosecutor Rerucha recalls that Shepard's friends also contacted his office. Rerucha told "20/20," "They were calling the County Attorney's office, they were calling the media and indicating Matthew Shepard is gay and we don't want the fact that he is gay to go unnoticed."
Helping fuel the gay hate crime theory were statements made to police and the media by Kristen Price, McKinney's girlfriend. (Price was charged with felony accessory after-the-fact to first-degree murder. She later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of misdemeanor interference with police officers.)
Price now says that at the time of the crime she thought things would go easier for McKinney if his violence were seen as a panic reaction to an unwanted gay sexual advance.
But today, Price tells Vargas the initial statements she made were not true and tells Vargas McKinney's motive was money and drugs. "I don't think it was a hate crime at all. I never did," she said.
Former Laramie Police Detective Ben Fritzen, one of the lead investigators in the case, also believed robbery was the primary motive. "Matthew Shepard's sexual preference or sexual orientation certainly wasn't the motive in the homicide," he said.
"If it wasn't Shepard, they would have found another easy target. What it came down to really is drugs and money and two punks that were out looking for it," Fritzen said.
'All I Wanted to Do Was Beat Him Up and Rob Him'
Asked directly whether he targeted and attacked Shepard because he was gay, McKinney told Vargas, "No. I did not. … I would say it wasn't a hate crime. All I wanted to do was beat him up and rob him."
But if the attackers were just trying to rob someone to get a drug fix, why did they beat Shepard so savagely?
Rerucha attributes McKinney's rage and his savage beating of Shepard to his drug abuse. "The methamphetamine just fueled to this point where there was no control. It was a horrible, horrible, horrible murder. It was a murder that was once again driven by drugs," Rerucha said.
Dr. Rick Rawson, a professor at UCLA who has studied the link between methamphetamine and violence, tells "20/20" the drug can trigger episodes of violent behavior.
"In the first weeks after you've stopped using it, the kinds of triggers that can set off an episode are completely unpredictable. It can be: you say a word with the wrong inflection, you touch someone on the shoulder. It's completely unpredictable as to what will set somebody off" Rawson said.
"If Aaron McKinney had not become involved with methamphetamine, Matthew Shepard would be alive today," Rerucha said.
Did Matthew Shepard Know His Killers?
Another widely held belief about the case is that McKinney and Shepard had never met before their fateful encounter at the Fireside Lounge. But a number of sources tell "20/20" the two were not strangers.
"Everybody knew Matt Shepard was a partier just like Aaron, just like the rest of us," said McKinney's friend Ryan Bopp.
In fact, Bopp said he had seen Shepard and McKinney together at parties. "Aaron was selling [drugs] and him and Matt would go off to the side and they'd come back. And Matt would be doing some meth then," he said.
Though they frequented the same party scene, McKinney maintains he had never met Shepard before the night of the crime and wonders why people might say he had. "I've never met him. … Maybe they seen us somewhere in the same spot or something. I don't know," McKinney said.
A bartender familiar with the local drug scene, who asked to be identified only as "Jean," says she was friendly with Shepard. She also says McKinney and Shepard knew each other.
When she learned of the beating, she said, she recalls thinking, "It's either money or dope, yeah. He'd be the perfect target especially because Aaron knew him."
Another Laramie resident, Elaine Baker, says she also saw McKinney and Shepard together in a social situation. Several weeks before the murder, she spent a night on the town in Doc O'Connor's limousine with a group that included both McKinney and Shepard.
"In the back of the limo, there was me, Stephanie, Doc, Aaron, Matthew Shepard," she said.
As word spread of the attack on Shepard, other people who knew him also suspected the drug scene might somehow be involved.
In fact, former Laramie police Cmdr. Dave O'Malley got a call from a friend of Shepard suggesting that. Nevertheless, O'Malley doesn't believe drug use motivated the attackers.
"I really don't think he was in a methamphetamine-induced rage when this happened. I don't buy it at all," O'Malley said. "I feel comfortable in my own heart that they did what they did to Matt because they [had] hatred toward him for being gay," he said.
Matthew Shepard's mother, Judy, also said she doesn't buy into theories that the attack was primarily driven by drugs and money rather than hatred of her son's homosexuality.
"I'm just not buying into that. There were a lot of things going on that night, and hate was one of them, and they murdered my son ultimately. Anything else we find out just doesn't, just doesn't change that fact," she said.
Did McKinney Have a Secret Sex Life?
O'Connor had known Aaron McKinney for years. In flush times, McKinney partied in O'Connor's limos, and, in fact, McKinney and his girlfriend lived for a while in an apartment on O'Connor's property.
O'Connor says he never heard McKinney express any anti-gay attitudes. In his interview with Vargas, O'Connor reveals his belief that McKinney is bisexual. "I know of an instance where he had a three-way, two guys and one gal," he said. "Because he did it with me."
O'Connor added, "I know he's bisexual. There ain't no doubt in my mind. He is bisexual."
McKinney's former girlfriend Price says she now believes that as well. "He was always into trying to talk me into having a three-way with one of his guy friends," she said.
In her prison interview with McKinney, Vargas asked McKinney directly whether he had had any sexual encounters with men. McKinney said no.
Displaying a strong aversion to homosexual sex was a tactic McKinney tried at his trial. His lawyers developed a so-called "gay panic defense," claiming homosexual abuse McKinney suffered as a child caused him to overreact to a sexual advance by Shepard and triggered the violent attack.
Hoping a Wyoming jury would be sympathetic to gay panic did not pay off. McKinney was found guilty and wound up with two life sentences, assuring he'll spend the rest of his life in prison, the same sentence received by his accomplice Russell Henderson.
"It's really hard for me to talk to Russ," McKinney said. "To see him in this situation, knowing that I'm the one that put him here."
But Henderson said he realizes he bears responsibility for Shepard's death.
"For a long time I thought that his death wasn't my fault. And then, as time has gone on, I got a better understanding to know that I could have prevented it and I could have stopped it, but I didn't. Matthew died because I didn't stop it," he said.
Henderson also expresses regret and remorse for his actions that night. "I'm sorry to the Shepard family. They've had the hardest of all this. I'm sorry to the nation as a whole because this affected a lot of people and I wish every day I could change or fix it," he said.
Matthew Shepard's Death Led to Enormous Changes
Shepard's story has been told in documentaries, television movies, and a play called "The Laramie Project." The drama is often used in schools, as a lesson in the insidious workings of hate and prejudice, and has become one of the most produced theater pieces in America. There was also a small screen version of the drama on HBO.
Shepard's mother has created The Matthew Shepard Foundation, dedicated to promoting tolerance and diversity, lobbying for hate-crime legislation, and assuring Matthew's legacy will be a positive one.