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Sean Kennedy’s Murderer Up For Early Parole

Jim Burroway

January 5th, 2009

Last June, we asked what a young gay man’s life was worth. A judge in South Carolina concluded that it was worth about a year and a half. That’s the sentence that Stephen Moller received 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. With credit for time served, he was due to be released in September 2009.

Well, now it’s possible that Moller could be out of prison as early as February. A web site set up in Sean Kennedy’s memory, Sean’s Last Wish, is asking for your help:

The parole board is currently conducting an investigation to decide whether to allow him to have a parole hearing, so it is critical that they hear from you that Stephen Andrew Moller violently murdered Sean Kennedy and should serve the remainder of his sentence!

Please consider writing a letter to the parole board and ask them to deny Stephen Moller parole and serve out his sentence. In your letter, please remind the board of the violent and unprovoked nature of Moller’s offense and the pain and suffering it has caused in the lives of Sean Kennedy’s family and friends. If you have the time, please write a personal letter by hand or by computer, as those will be the most effective, and if you knew Sean or his family personally, please include that information.

Also, please let Elke know if you send a letter and if possible, send her a copy of the letter, so she can have copies to take with her to the parole hearing.

Be sure to include Moller’s full name and ID number:
Stephen Andrew Moller  -  SCDC ID # 00328891.

Send your letters to:
Department of Probation Pardon and Parole Services
2221 Devine Street, Suite 600, PO Box 50666
Columbia SC 29250

Please forward to your contacts, friends and family.
Thank you for all of your support!

Comments

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Stephen Sprinkle
January 5th, 2009 | LINK

Letter writing efforts like this DO work, and you can count me in. Sean Kennedy’s murder is notable for its senselessness, and the sentence given his killer is even more than an affront to his memory. It is an assault on LGBT people everywhere.

Paul Broussard’s mother, Nancy Rodriguez, has successfully argued for the denial of parole for her son’s killer twice, largely because many LGBT people and allies wrote the Texas Parole Board. Most recently, in the fall of 2007, Jon Buice, who has served less than a third of his 45-year sentence for his part in the 1991 murder of Broussard, was kept behind bars.

I many of your readers weigh in on this matter, write letters as you suggest, and support Elke Kennedy at this critical time. I will certainly be promoting this effort on my blog, http://www.unfinishedlives.wordpress.com.

Sean Kennedy’s family opposes early parole for killer « Unfinished Lives
January 6th, 2009 | LINK

[...] “Sean Kennedy’s Murderer Up for Early Parole” by Jim Burroway The Box Turtle Bulletin January 5, 2009 [...]

staci
January 6th, 2009 | LINK

Don’t forget that this is South Carolina and they have no anti-hate laws there. South Carolina is the buckle of the bible belt. They will not respect you or give you any power unless you are a white, straight, christian man. You realize there are rednecks praising this Stephen Moller @$$ for killing poor Sean. I used to live there, so I know. It was the absolute most horrible two years of my life.

AJD
January 6th, 2009 | LINK

This is what makes me so sick of people who argue against hate-crime laws. This kind of deliberate negligence is the reason why we need them. I’ll bet those grand jury members secretly thought that Stephen Moller was doing the world a favor.

JJQR
January 6th, 2009 | LINK

staci : South Carolina must be very different from North Carolina. In N.C., if you’re accused of a crime and you’re a white straight Christian man, you’re in big trouble whether you’re guilty or innocent (the Duke lacrosse rape hoax case).

Timothy Kincaid
January 6th, 2009 | LINK

JJQR,

Please provide evidence of some pattern that proves that “In N.C., if you’re accused of a crime and you’re a white straight Christian man, you’re in big trouble whether you’re guilty or innocent.”

One anecdote does not a pattern make. And we don’t allow unsubstantiated claims here at BTB.

Attmay
January 6th, 2009 | LINK

Cases like this are why we also need the death penalty to be mandatory in fatal hate crimes.

elizabeth
January 7th, 2009 | LINK

As gay people, we struggle with ignorance every day. I urge everyone to take a step back, open up your minds and look at ALL the facts in this case.
I’m a Lesbian from Greenville, SC and what happened here was tragic, but this was NOT a hate crime. I am Stephen’s cousin and I’ve known him his entire life. He will pay for his mistakes but he is not a murderer. This is not the case to use to fight for our rights. Stephen has had nothing but open arms and a loving heart when it comes to me, my partner and all my friends. I ask everyone to please focus your much needed attention, energy and resources elsewhere to try to help South Carolina with it’s obvious lack of laws, respect and tolerance for the gay community.

AJD
January 7th, 2009 | LINK

elizabeth,

The guy called Sean Kennedy a faggot when he punched him and then left a message on a woman’s phone describing him as her “faggot friend.”

I hate to say this, but you’re (from what I can tell) a lesbian, not a gay man. It could very well be that he’s okay with lesbians, but hates gay men.

What other motive did have, hmm?

elizabeth
January 7th, 2009 | LINK

AJD-

You maybe assume I only have female friends…but that’s far from the case.
Stephen also has gay male friends. In his ignorance of the word “faggot”, he used it after the fact. Being from South Carolina, I know plenty of males and females who use the word faggot, not knowing what it REALLY means and stands for. This only proves lack of education, NOT hate. Gay men call each other faggots just as African Americans use the N word when talking to each other. Just because Stephen wasn’t sensitive to the word, doesn’t mean he set out to murder anyone because of their sexuality. Add in the fact that these kids were underage and in a bar drinking only makes it worse. Ask “Brew’s” how long it took them to change their name to “Croc’s” after this incident. They were all somewhere they shouldn’t have been and things got out of hand… but this was not a fight over being gay or straight, therefore, not a hate crime…

Scott
January 7th, 2009 | LINK

elizabeth,

Your cousin IS a basher and deserves at least 25 years in prison.

If this isn’t a HATE crime what IS it, huh? Or are you contending that Sean did something horrible to you cousin (if he really is your cousin and you’re not just some straight person trying to stir up trouble here) and told your “cousin” he was cute or something equally “predatory”.
Don’t hand us this crap about him and expect us to accept it, period.

He made a choice to be violent. He made an unprovoked attack on someone he didn’t even know! And, if you’re caucasian, try calling a black man the N word and let’s see what happens.

Bet you think the lesbian in Sacramento deserved what she got as well, or that at least she did something to provoke her attackers! What a load of sour-smelling drivel. You should be ashamed to have posted it.

grantdale
January 7th, 2009 | LINK

Good God Eliabeth, whoever you are — have you no shame?

This is neither the time nor the place.

And there will never be a time nor a place to excuse wilful violence that ended in the death of a person.

I’m sorry but decent people DO NOT have gay male friends AND remain ignorant of the word faggot. What sort of audience do you think you are talking to here?

Ask for mercy for Stephen, but don’t make excuses. A young man died, and Stephen Moller gloated over the violence that caused that death.

Timothy Kincaid
January 7th, 2009 | LINK

Elizabeth,

If, indeed, you are a lesbian, this does not diminish Stephen Moller’s liability for his actions nor does it in any was indicate that his behavior was not a hate crime.

By definition, if Moller was motivated to strike Kennedy because of his orientation, it’s a hate crime. And the facts are indisputable by his own words and his own taped gloating:

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.

While your self identification here as a lesbian does not reduce Moller’s guilt, it does increase your own.

As a lesbian, you had an obligation to hold your cousin to a higher standard, to refuse to condone his homophobia and change his thinking. You did not do this.

Instead you seek to cover for him and make excuses. You suggest that “f-ing faggot” is just hunky-dory around you and your friends and that Muller can’t be blamed.

This says to me that you enabled Muller’s homophobia. That you placed his approval of you as more important than your own self-worth or that of other gay men and women. And you still do.

There is no way to hold you to legal action for encouraging a homophobic atmosphere nor for continuing to act as though hate crimes against gays are OK. But when you go to sleep tonight, Elizabeth, know that you have Kennedy’s blood on your hands.

elizabeth
January 7th, 2009 | LINK

I don’t encourage or condone anyone’s actions and I certainly don’t excuse them. Stephen deserves to and will pay for his mistakes.

Kincaid- Don’t presume to know me…Faggot is not “hunky-dory” with me nor is it used by my friends. I was only speaking of the need for education.

John B
January 7th, 2009 | LINK

Elizabeth,

Last I knew, one pays for murder with an appropriate sentence… not the equivalent of a long “time out”.

People have served much longer sentences for crimes considerably more trivial than this (ie, my cousin who served over 5 years for a fictitious child abuse charge – in Michigan).

Exactly how will Stephen pay for his mistake(s)?

Scott
January 7th, 2009 | LINK

elisabeth, I dare you, really dare you to go to Sean Kennedy’s mother and tell her your precious cousin has been punished enough. You’ve tried to lay the blame on other people and even the bar for what your cousin did. He, and he alone, is responsible for what he did. Don’t ask us to take pity on him.

elizabeth
January 8th, 2009 | LINK

John B-
You’re correct… our justice system sucks! …but you speak of murder. That wasn’t the crime that was committed here.

Scott-
You obviously misunderstand me and dare me to do something that’s unthinkable and outrageous. I’ve kept quiet until now and the only name I’ve spoken of is Stephen’s. I wouldn’t dare cross that line and I’m certainly not asking for pity. Stephen is absolutely responsible for every action and decision he made. I don’t condone or excuse any of it… but call it what it is… NOT murder and NOT a hate crime!

Scott
January 8th, 2009 | LINK

Bloody f***ing hell, woman, yes, it WAS a hate crime! Ever hear the phrase “In vino veritas” it means “In wine, truth”. In other words, when a person is drunk their inhibitions are gone and the REAL person comes out and THAT’S why that miserable son-of-a-bitch, your cousin, bragged and LAUGHED about what he’d done! He showed his HATRED of gay people.

Do us all a favor and get into a “reparative therapy” group and become an “ex-gay” because people like you are really unneeded by the rest of us!

Timothy Kincaid
January 8th, 2009 | LINK

Scott,

Your last comment is uncivil and uncalled for.

Elizabeth,

You are making exuses, condoning the action (by claiming it is something other than it is), and seeking to find sympathy.

The facts show that this was a hate crime. Your efforts to convince anyone here otherwise are unlikely to succeed. We are neither idiots or enablers of this thug.

Scott
January 8th, 2009 | LINK

I apologize to the general readership, Tim, but not to elisabeth. She refuses to see what her defense of her cousin really is, and that is to excuse him. And I, personally, have been through too much to put up with crap like she has been dishing out and not respond. the time for civility in facing those who hurt us, and those who protect and try to mitigate the actions of people like Moller, is long past.

Timothy Kincaid
January 8th, 2009 | LINK

Scott,

The time for civility on this blogsite is right now. We don’t engage in “people like you” comments here.

Scott
January 8th, 2009 | LINK

My apologies.

Timothy Kincaid
January 8th, 2009 | LINK

no prob

:)

Ben in Oakland
January 8th, 2009 | LINK

Scott– though I understand your feelings, civility, whether on this website or in real life, is always called for. That doesn’t mean you can’t be angry–and show it. It doesn’t mean you can’t tell the truth. Back when
I was a probation officer, dealing with what we laughingly called our “clientele”– I found the value of always maintaining courtesy and civility. I could say very nicely “Sir, you are a career criminal with no interest in leading a law-abiding and productive life. I’m going to recommend that you be returned to prison.” they responded with civility as well.

Regarding Elizabeth: though it sounds like a hate crime, that is really not what is important. Nor is the pretty legal distinction between manslaughter and murder, though the distinction has benefited your cousin.

What is important: your cousin chose deliberately to kill another person whose offense seem to be that he existed. It wasn’t an accident, he didn’t have a psychotic break, nobody slipped him an LSD mickey in the fruit punch, the victim didn’t sodomize him while he was asleep.

What is important: your cousin is serving 2 years for the murder of a young man whom he did not know and who had done him no harm– except existing.

Lots of sociopathic personalities, like your cousin, are full of warm hearts and open arms. That’s their trademark–being nice people. It’s what makes them so attractive, and so capable of doing the harm they do.

Dan White, handsome and likeable, a good family man, murdered my mayor and my supervisor 30 years ago. Another sociopathic personality. Probably, and probably like your cousin, fighting his own demons and blaming others, who don’t have those demons, for the effrontery of not having them. It’s hardly a new story.

Dan white, sociopath, got seven years for his conviction of manslaughter, and was out in 5. The verdict was his vindication, not his punishment. But because I would like to believe that he had some goodness in him, his punishment came after, because he was not a strong man. That’s why he used a gun. And that is why he killed himself

If your cousin is even a tenth of a man, he will spend the rest of his life atoning for his evil.

When he’s been at it for a few years, let me know. but other than that, you are placing your affection for your cousin over the value of a the life of a young man whom he killed/murder/manslaughtered for his own sociopathic reasons.

Birds and flocks, my dear.

elizabeth
January 8th, 2009 | LINK

Guys-
I’m not here to defend, excuse or even to impose my beliefs on anyone. Maybe I was mistaken to believe that as a human being and Lesbian, I would be allowed to join a civilized conversation to help me and maybe even others understand and deal w/ issues such as these. As family, I feel comfortable talking about Stephen, but I dare not speak of anyone else out of respect, not b/c I don’t see the other side of this story and don’t put any value on it. I would absolutely not pretend to have any idea what the Kennedy family is going through. I’m only looking for an understanding within my own self.

Scott-
I don’t seek an apology for your rudeness. You’re entitled to your opinion of me, but to suggest I’m “not needed” was not necessary… maybe you should join me in my quest for therapy.

Scott
January 8th, 2009 | LINK

I apologized for my rudeness once, it won’t be repeated.

staci
January 9th, 2009 | LINK

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I am a lesbian that used to live in SC. Just moved away in October. I have never run across so many bigots and rednecks in my entire life. I really hated it there. My landscaper actually brought his brother over to gawk at me and my domestic partner and said “Ya’ll don’t look like most lesbians.” I even had to switch banks because the first bank refused to recognize my power of attorney once they asked what our relationship was. They were honoring it just fine for over a year, until they asked for our relationship status. Of course, the bank employee had a WWJD business card holder on her desk. These are just a couple of the many incidents that happened to me personally and I know of many more incidents with others in the GLBT community. A lot more goes on than what you see. Trust me.

This Stephen Moller is just the tip of the iceberg. I do not buy the lack of education excuse. It comes down to common decency. It does not take a high school education to know that murder is wrong. Harassment is wrong.

Sorry for the ramble and that this post is rather disjointed but I am very upset with the way the state of SC perceives this as normal behavior and that it is ok that it happened to a gay person. I am so irritated with GLBT treatment and murders there and if I had known what I know now, I would never have set foot in that state in the first place. I have lived all over the world and never encountered so many sexist and prejudice people as I did in that state.

Colbey
January 24th, 2009 | LINK

South Carolina needs to be be shaken up. We need to focus on one issue at a time, and GET IT DONE. Maybe someone needs to organize a march in Columbia some time…I don’t know. Just like the people who owned the AT&T stores in Seneca, getting replaced because they were gay…discrimination is happening all the time, but in Sean’s case..it was the ultimate hate crime. How could it be any less obvious?

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