Atlanta attorney lashes out at "gay panic" defense
August 07 2004 12:00 AM ET
Fulton County, Ga., district attorney Paul Howard says he is sick of what some lawyers call the "gay panic" defense to justify attacks on gays. Some jurors apparently agree. A jury convicted James Lee Shaw, 39, this week in the August 2002 slaying of a coworker at the Market Cafe in Atlanta's Apparel Mart. Shaw claimed he fatally stabbed Rowland Hardwick, 53, in the restaurant's restroom because Hardwick had a knife and tried to rape him. Shaw told jurors he suffered flashbacks to his childhood when he was molested by men. Hardwick was stabbed 40 times. The prosecutor, Howard assistant Brett Pinion, told jurors Shaw did not have the defensive wounds usually seen as the result of a struggle and was upset over his coworker's sexual advance, not attempted rape. Shaw was convicted of murder and other crimes and was sentenced to life in prison.
Howard issued a statement Thursday saying his prosecutors are "sick" of this type of defense. "It is demeaning, outrageous, insulting, and downright ridiculous for defendants to believe that the death of any human being is justified because he or she is homosexual," Howard said. Three years ago Fulton County assistant district attorney Ahmed Dabarran, 32, was found bludgeoned to death in his east Cobb County apartment. Roderiqus Reshad Reed, 21, of Ellenwood was charged with murder but acquitted last year. His attorneys claimed he killed Dabarran in self-defense after being forced to commit a sex act at gunpoint by a third man.