It’s been more than three years since 18-year-old Scotty Joe Weaver’s burned body was found at the side of a rural Alabama road. He had been beaten, strangled, cut, burned and robbed of between $65 and $80. While robbery was first thought to be the main motivation, Baldwin County District Attorney concluded that the crime was actually a hate crime.
Robert Porter, 18, Nichole Bryars Kelsay, 18, and Christopher Gaines, 20 were arrested and charged with capital murder. Gaines and Kelsay had been Scotty Joe’s roommates. Last May, Gaines pleaded guilty to capital murder, avoiding the death penalty. Last week, Porter entered a guilty plea and received two consecutive life sentences. According to his lawyer, he will be eligible for parole in fifteen years.
This past Wednesday, lifelong “friend” Nicole Kelsey pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to 20 years. The case however still leaves many questions unanswered:
For the first time since the ordeal began Martha Weaver addressed the court and specifically Kelsay. Afterwards her questions were still unanswered. “Why did she do it? Why did she plot to hurt him like that? Because he done nothing to her. He always tried to help her. He loved her more than anything.”
The three people responsible for Scottie Weaver’s murder have now all pleaded guilty. The legal case is over. But it will never be over for Martha Weaver. “It won’t never go away cause I don’t have my baby no more. Cause of them, they took him away from me.”
Alabama doesn’t have a hate crime law covering sexual orientation. Scotty Joe Weaver’s murder was not included in the FBI’s hate crime statistics for 2004, representing another example of the gaps in the FBI’s hate crime reporting program.