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Killer of
Colorado gay man could get probation

Killer of
Colorado gay man could get probation

One of two suspects charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of a gay man, which sparked fears the man was targeted because of his sexual orientation, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Adam Hernandez, 21, entered his plea to manslaughter and felony theft in Montrose district court in Colorado on Thursday, The Denver Post reported. Hernandez and 24-year-old Jason Fiske were charged in the death of Kevin Hale, who prior to his slaying had already told police he had been threatened because he was gay. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors agreed to drop other charges, including first-degree murder, a conviction that carries a mandatory life sentence. As part of the plea, Hernandez will serve no more than eight years in prison and could be sentenced to probation, the Post reported. "I just hope for the best," Hernandez said as he left the courtroom with his family and Montrose assistant public defender Harvey Palefsky. Hernandez, Fiske, and Hale had been at a pub, and Hernandez told investigators he wanted to beat up Hale because Hale had made sexual advances toward him. Hale's body was found in a Montrose park July 31. Hale's cousin Stacy Scott spoke outside the courtroom on behalf of half a dozen family members who were there. "I hope he [Hernandez] gets what he deserves," Scott said. "They both just need to be put behind bars as far as I'm concerned. They still have their lives. My cousin doesn't." Hernandez will be sentenced May 24. Fiske is scheduled to enter a plea on April 26. "The D.A. definitely missed an opportunity here to promote awareness around bias-motivated violence," said Veronica Garcia with the Colorado Anti-Violence Program. "This leaves the door open to more crimes of violence or homicide in the future in the community." The day after the slaying, Fiske told police he placed Hale in a choke hold while breaking up a fight between Hale and Hernandez. The arrest affidavit said that Fiske told police he thought Hale was unconscious when they left him in the park. An autopsy showed Hale died of strangulation. It also showed that he was on epilepsy medication and had methamphetamine in his system. (AP)

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