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What Is A Young Gay Man’s Life Worth?

Jim Burroway

June 11th, 2008

Sean Kennedy / Stephen MollerAbout a year and a half, with parole.

That’s the sentence that Stephen Moller received today for the death of Sean Kennedy. Sean, 20, was attacked outside a Greenville County, S.C. bar on May 16, 2007. Witnesses said that Moller shouted anti-gay epithets at Kennedy before attacking him. Sean died of his injuries.

Moller was originally charged with murder, but the grand jury reduced the charge to involuntary manslaughter. Moller pleaded guilty to those reduced charges and was sentenced to five years, reduced to three, minus seven months for time served. Moller’s attorney said that when all is said and done, Moller will probably serve about a year and a half.

In a statement in court today, Moller shirked responsibility for his crime, saying:

“I wish that young people weren’t allowed to be out late at night and the bars were not allowed to serve them alcohol. I think if that hadn’t taken place, we wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t be here today.”

But contrast Moller’s statement to the court with his taunting phone call to a friend of Sean’s fifteen minutes after the assault:

Hey. (laughter) Whoa stop. (laughter) Hey, I was just wondering how your boyfriend’s feeling right about now. (laughter) (??) knocked the f— out. (laughter). The f—— faggot. He ought to never stick his mother-f—— nose (??) Where are you going? Just a minute. (laughter). Yea boy, your boy is knocked out, man. The mother——-. Tell him he owes me $500.00 for breaking my god—- hand on his teeth that f—— bitch”

Involuntary manslaughter. A year and a half.

Elke Kennedy, Sean’s mother, reacted this way:

“There was no justice today for Sean. The sentence that Stephen Moller received, in my opinion, is a joke and a slap on the wrist. Once again, it proves that in South Carolina there is no justice.”

South Carolina has no hate crime law covering sexual orientation. But hey, South Carolina Equality points out that torturing animals can get you five years in prison.

Killing a gay man? Half that.

Ms. Kennedy is right. There is no justice today.



June 11th, 2008 | LINK

This is appalling.

June 12th, 2008 | LINK

How would the grand jury even let the charges get downgraded? I can’t even understand, especially given that phone call, how they would ever think these charges should be downgraded.

Regan DuCasse
June 12th, 2008 | LINK


Oh, I despair. What was the jury thinking?!
Yes, this phone call is clearly the definition of depraved indifference! Why would they want someone THIS violent on the streets? Period.

Oh, my heart goes out to Sean’s family. My heart breaks for them. And very often, black folk’s who are homophobic like to say that gay folks haven’t dealt with what THEY have.

Well, first the assault, and then no JUSTICE for such a horrible death?
It DOES truly smack of the southern justice that black folks got after being murdered by white thugs.

What’s the difference HERE?
Someone tell me…what is the difference?!

June 12th, 2008 | LINK

South Carolina is a freak mess of bigotry – simple as that. And the comparison to white guys getting off easy after lynching blacks is spot on. Well, like I say whenever one of these homophobe thugs gets jail time: Better start stretching, Mr. Moller. You will have a year and a half during which your e l a s t i c i t y will be a cherished virtue.

Emily K
June 12th, 2008 | LINK

Do you think that if it had been a straight man there would have been a greater sentencing? Or was it specifically because the man was gay that there was a lighter sentence? I’m having a hard time with this one. Maybe the judge/jury were corrupt no matter what kind of person was murdered.

June 12th, 2008 | LINK

This is not an isolated case. A few years ago a Utah Judge was publicly reprimanded for reducing the prison sentence for a David Thacker who shot a gay man right between the eyes. A plea-bargaining altered the charge from murder to manslaughter with a potential sentence from 2 to 20 years but was reduced to just one to six years. Reasoning: Judge David Young said at the time of the trial: “Koehler [the gay man] would still be alive if the victim had not supplied the drugs and alcohol.” Even after Thacker had pursued his victim for four miles(!) with a .22-caliber revolver! The Judge had the gall in accepting the defendant’s explanation: “the gun went off accidentally”.

Yeah…right…Right between the eyes.

But, because it was a hot topic in the news, I remember the spokeswoman for our local Eagle Forum saying the sentence was justified because the man had tried to kiss Thacker.

June 12th, 2008 | LINK

Any brief comment on a blog cannot do justice to the tragedy this case represents… however, with this comment I simply seek to raise my voice with others against the injustice.

I grieve for the devaluing of Sean’s life and the lack of justice his family must now deal with.

Martin Lanigan
June 12th, 2008 | LINK

My sincere condolences to Sean Kennedy’s family.

We are all diminished when justice fails.

June 12th, 2008 | LINK

so cowboy, Out of curiousity, this sentence “I remember the spokeswoman for our local Eagle Forum saying the sentence was justified because the man had tried to kiss Thacker.” do you agree or disagree? That in reason means that if a man tries to kiss me there, and i dont want it it justifies me shooting him between the eyes? thats so fucking insane. I’m all for equal rights, to gays and straights, and men and women. I work hard for what i earn. I’m straight. But i agree with gay rights. I can’t believe that justification. Thats insane! This world i swear has its unjustices, and crazy moments…….

Jason D
June 13th, 2008 | LINK

that’s bullshit, the story makes it even sound like “well, if the victim hadn’t hit his head on the pavement.”

That’s bullshit, any time you assault someone there is the potential for permanent harm and possibly death.

The defense attorney is reprehensible,”I mean, Stephen had no idea he was gay until after the fact. It’s just a freak incident that should never have happened.”

It’s not a freak accident to kill someone when you’re assaulting them.

It’s disgusting, it suggests that the victim is to blame because he couldn’t take a punch in the face without dying and that the assailant is innocent because he didn’t realize that hurting someone could kill them!

June 13th, 2008 | LINK

Heather, I know it sounds strange. But the incident was newsworthy and my memory remembers a televised debate between gay-supporting individuals and this lady from the ultra-conservative Eagle’s Forum. By laying partial blame on the victim this conservative woman said the gay man was partly responsible for his own death. I heard her say all the gay bashings were justified because they usually were cruising for sex. We hear that from time to time again and again. It’s an underlying tone you STILL hear in debates about Matt Sheppard.

Yes, the world is unjust. Justice is not blind in spite what we like to think.

I must be naïve but there are certain things I feel pretty much are clearly logical and any rational person would see the justice or injustice but I’m amazed at some examples you constantly read, see and hear about.

Bradley Blackwell
November 16th, 2009 | LINK

listen here. mr moller never new that guy was gay. who ever stared this is one dirty liar. this kid hit mr moller first inside of a car and then mr moller hit him and he fell out. mr moller is one of the greatest people i no i dont care what he did sean should of never hit hiw and i wouldnt be on this subject today. this is all i got to say

Timothy Kincaid
November 16th, 2009 | LINK


“i dont care what he did”

That is all I need to know about you.

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