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Three charged in gay murder case to be tried as adults

Three charged in gay murder case to be tried as adults

Three young people charged in the slaying of a gay teenager will be tried as adults in capital murder trials. Christopher Ryan Gaines, 20; Nichole Kelsay, 19; and Robert Holly Lofton Porter, 19, entered not guilty pleas Thursday after a Baldwin County, Ala., circuit court judge denied their requests for youthful offender status in separate arraignments. Scotty Joe Weaver was beaten, stabbed, and strangled and his body burned in woods near his mobile home on July 18, 2004, according to investigators. Gaines, Kelsay, and Porter now face the death penalty if convicted in light of Judge J. Langford Floyd's ruling, prosecutors said. Under Alabama law, any defendant 21 or younger at the time of an offense can request youthful offender status, which would seal the case record. The defendant would waive his or her right to a jury trial, and the maximum jail time for a youthful offender is three years. Investigators have pointed to robbery as the primary motive, but prosecutors believe the suspects acted in part because Weaver was gay. The defendants are accused of taking between $65 and $80 in cash from Weaver after the 18-year-old returned home from working at the Bay Minette Waffle House. Weaver had shared a trailer home with the defendants. Prosecutors have not decided whether they want the three defendants to be tried together or separately, said Baldwin County assistant district attorney Jim Vollmer. The judge did not set a future court date in any of the cases but gave defense attorneys 20 days to file special pleas or motions, Vollmer said. The case has drawn interest from gay rights groups, and hundreds of mourners attended a vigil for Weaver in Mobile. Antigay hate groups picketed outside the Crossroads Church of God, where Weaver's funeral was held. All three defendants are being held without bond at the Baldwin County Corrections Center. (AP)

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