A 19-year-old pleaded guilty Wednesday to manslaughter in the 2001 beating death of a gay man that
shocked and galvanized the gay community in Vancouver, Canada. The teen, who cannot be identified by name because he was under 18 when the crime occurred, spoke only once to confirm he understood the seriousness of the charge.
While no other charges have been filed in the case, the guilty plea to a manslaughter charge was considered a likely deal for information on other participants in the attack on Aaron Webster. Police inspector David Jones said more arrests could occur. "The investigation is not dead," Jones said.
Webster, 41, died in the arms of his friend, Tim Chisholm, early on November 17, 2001, in Vancouver's Stanley Park. He was in an area frequented by gay men seeking casual sex and was naked except for a pair of boots. Police believe four attackers were involved in killing Webster by hitting him in the throat with a baseball bat or pool cue. It was considered a hate crime, with Webster targeted because of his homosexuality.
Gay activist Jim Deva questioned why Wednesday's guilty plea had taken so long to occur. "Our community is going to be very attentive to the process," he said, with the goal "that Aaron is going to get some justice."
The guilty plea caused prosecutor Sandra Dworkin to abandon an application to have the teen tried in adult court. The teen's lawyer, David Baker, said his client's role in Webster's death would be explained at an as-yet-unscheduled sentencing hearing. The maximum sentence is three years in prison, and Baker refused to comment on whether the manslaughter charge amounted to a plea bargain.