By Jase Peeples
Originally published on Advocate.com October 15 2013 5:37 PM ET
Author Stephen Jimenez’s controversial Book of Matt, which claims the 1998 murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was motivated by meth and money rather than homophobia, has been dismantled by Tim Newcomb in a statement given to Equality Matters, reports Media Matters.
Newcomb was not only the appellate attorney for one of the defendants in the Shepard murder, he is also a longtime resident of Laramie, Wyo., the small town where the crime took place. Though Jimenez dismissed Newcomb’s criticism of his book in a recent interview because the attorney was not involved in Shepard’s case from the beginning, Newcomb has fired back, listing many facts that contradict the author’s claims.
“Unlike the author, who visited Laramie from New York a year and a half [after the incident], I was an attorney living in Laramie, and had been for several years, when Matthew was murdered,” Newcomb writes. “I mention that only because Laramie has few people and we tend to know of each other. Hidden truths behind notorious crimes are as rare as windless winters.”
Newcomb goes on to reveal that while he was representing Russell Henderson — Aaron McKinney’s accomplice in Shepard’s murder — he was privy to the same sources Jimenez credits in his book, and he highlights the inconsistency in their stories.
“During the time I represented Russell, a man called his grandmother, saying he had been Matthew's lover and had his diary,” Newcomb writes of one source. “I called him and asked if that was true. He told me it was, so I asked for a copy. His story shifted; his sister had the diary. I asked that she send me a copy. His story shifted again. She wouldn't show it to anyone because she feared for his life. I asked why he called Russell's grandmother then; eventually, he seemed to suggest that he didn't have enough money. Our conversation ended but I'm told he became a source for a recently published book rewriting Matthew's murder, claiming that McKinney did not target Matthew because he was gay.”
Newcomb also points out that Jimenez’s efforts to rewrite the details of Shepard’s murder are eclipsed by McKinney’s own admission that he targeted the 21-year-old because “Matthew Shepard needed killing” and he was “obviously gay.”