Dallas Man Given 30 Years In Anti-Gay Attack

Jim Burroway

March 5th, 2009

Times are changing. If you need any proof of that, look at this recent verdict in Dallas:

A 32-year-old Garland man was sentenced to 30 years in prison Wednesday, March 4 for his role in a brutal anti-gay hate crime that occurred in the heart of Oak Lawn last July.

Before recommending the sentence to Judge Ernest White, the same 12-person jury found Jonathan Russell Gunter guilty of first-degree felony aggravated robbery following a two-day trial in Dallas County’s 194th District Court.

Gunter and Bobby Jack Singleton, 29, also of Garland, are accused of beating and robbing now-43-year-old Jimmy Lee Dean on Dickason Avenue, just a block from the Cedar Springs strip, in the early morning hours of July 17, 2008.

Dean, who was hospitalized for 10 days after the attack and suffered permanent physical damage, said Wednesday he was relieved Gunter had been convicted. Dean added that he hopes Singleton, who’s still awaiting trial, is sentenced to at least a 60 years in prison because he was responsible for inflicting most of the injuries.

What a difference twenty years makes.

On May 15, 1988, [John] Griffin, 27, and [Tommy] Trimble, 34, drove to the Crossroads, where they met Richard Lee Bednarski, an 18-year-old high school senior weeks from graduation. Bednarski rode with Griffin and Trimble to Reverchon Park, where he shot both men three times. Trimble died at the scene; Griffin died five days later.

…Bednarski, the son of a police officer, had no criminal record. But that didn’t stop him from targeting gay men along Cedar Springs Road. Testimony showed that he and several classmates set out to gay-bash, with Bednarski saying their intent was to “pester the homosexuals.”

Bednarski was convicted of two counts of murder. The prosecuter demanded a life sentence. But Dallas County Criminal District Court Jack Hampton only gave him thirty years for two brutal killings — a very light sentence by Texas standards. Why did he go so easy?

“I don’t care much for queers cruising the streets. I’ve got a teenage boy,” Hampton told the Dallas Times-Herald. Hampton said Griffin and Trimble wouldn’t have been killed “if they hadn’t been cruising the streets picking up teenage boys,” and that he would have handed down a harsher penalty if the victims had been “a couple of housewives out shopping, not hurting anybody.”

“I put prostitutes and gays at about the same level, and I’d be hard pressed to give someone life for killing a prostitute,” Hampton told the newspaper.

That comment sparked outrage nationwide, and multiple protests in Dallas. Hampton was finally censured by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. While he was never removed from the bench, Hampton has since retired.  On July 9, 2007, Bednarski was released after serving less than 19 years for killing two gay men.

Dallas has changed a lot since then Bednarksi was sentenced. Dallas County now has a a sheriff by the name of Lupe Valdes — the only lesbian Latina sheriff in the country. And yesterday, a man was sentenced to thirty years for aggravated armed robbery of one gay man. The same sentence that Bednarski got for murdering two in cold blood.

Yes, times are changing. For the better.

Emily K

March 5th, 2009

I don’t understand, were they just randomly picking Bednarski up or were they soliciting something? I can’t piece this together.

Stephen Sprinkle

March 5th, 2009

One of my former students graduated from the same high school in Mesquite, TX that Bednarski attended. I got the low down from him. The accusation that the victims were “cruising” for sex was just a smoke screen to cover up the homophobia of the community. They offered Bednarski a ride. That was all there was to it. While I do agree that things are changing in Dallas, I wish much more would change. I am a resident of south Dallas, the Oakcliff community. Dallas is still responsible for 34% of all the anti-LGBT hate violence in Texas. The attack on Jimmy Lee Dean very nearly killed him, and he would be dead but for the intervention of a brave gay man who risked his life to stop the attack. Richard Hernandez, 34, an openly gay latino from north Dallas, was eviscerated in his apartment last year. His internal organs were left in his bathroom tub, but his body has never been found. This is real “Silence-of-the-Lambs” style murder, and it is right here in Big D. See my blog, http://www.unfinishedlives.wordpress.com, for more information. Queer folk and allies took to the streets to protest local government inaction against hate crime violence, and that is the only reason in my opinion, that officials started paying attention. Yes, I am proud of Sheriff Lupe Valdez, But Dallas faces continuing patterns of violent crime against LGBT citizens.

Boo Radley

February 27th, 2011

And here we are in early 2011 and Bednarski is friending people in facebook. Lovely.

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