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Colorado murder
of gay man a possible hate crime

Colorado murder
of gay man a possible hate crime

The killing of a Montrose, Colo., man who had told police he was being threatened because he was gay is being investigated as a possible hate crime, police said. The body of Kevin Hale, 36, was found in a town park June 30. Friends and family noted that Hale had said the harassment by one of the suspects had been escalating, including to threats of bodily harm.

Todd Fiske, 24, and Adam Hernandez, 21, were charged Friday with first-degree murder in the slaying. "I think they [killed] him because he was gay," said Tammy Gonzales, who divorced Hale in 1997, when he stopped hiding his homosexuality after 10 years of marriage. "He was worried that someone was trying to kill him. At times, he would call me and tell me he was scared." The couple had a 13-year-old son.

Montrose County coroner Mark Young said Saturday he could not release a report on the cause of death until toxicology tests are complete. He said there is no doubt it was a homicide, though it did not involve beating, shooting, or stabbing. An arrest affidavit said Hernandez confronted Hale late July 29 at a bar and accused him of attempting to molest him in the past. Fiske and Hernandez waited for Hale along the route he usually walked to get home, the affidavit said.

The affidavit said Fiske told officers he broke up a fight between Hale and Hernandez by grabbing Hale by the neck from behind. The document said Fiske let go after Hale went limp, but it said Fiske changed his story several times during the interview. Family and friends said one of the alleged attackers had worked with Hale at a Montrose real estate company, where Hale eventually quit because of the stress.

Hale's uncle, Larry DeVinny, said his nephew apparently made a pass at one of his attackers more than a year ago. Avy Skolnik, program director of the Colorado Anti-Violence Program, said people who attack gay people commonly say the victim tried to pick them up. "Perpetrators assume that police or the courts will absolve them of all charges and see assault, and in this case murder, as justified," he said. "It's the oldest trick in the book."

Gonzales said her former husband would not provoke a fight. "He didn't deserve to die just because he was gay," she said. (AP)

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