Virginia man pleads guilty to killing activist

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com March 25 2003 1:00 AM ET

A Virginia man pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the strangling death of a Knoxville, Tenn., gay rights activist and was sentenced to 15 years "on diversion." That means that if Chad Allen Conyers, 32, stays out of trouble, he won't be jailed, and the case will be dismissed. Otherwise, he will spend four years in prison. Conyers had been charged with second-degree murder in the April 2002 death of Joseph Camber, 36, after the two men left a nightclub. Assistant district attorney general Philip H. Morton said in court that Conyers was in Knoxville to visit a sick relative, went to the Carousel II, and met Camber, a bartender who was celebrating his birthday. They left together at about 1:30 a.m. When Camber's body was discovered in a parking lot six hours later, there was skin underneath his fingernails that DNA tests later showed was that of Conyers's. Conyers entered his plea Friday before criminal court judge Richard Baumgartner as part of an agreement reached between his attorneys and prosecutors. Morton said afterward that it might have been difficult to get a second-degree murder conviction. "The facts, although they put these gentlemen together at the time of the killing, there wasn't a clear explanation why it happened," he said. Conyers, a loss prevention manager for a clothing store chain, will be supervised in Virginia Beach where he lives. Camber had been a president of Knoxville Pride, helped found a gay online bulletin board, and had worked with HIV/AIDS patients.