Chicago Murder Acquittal Blamed On “Gay Panic”


How do you stab and slash someone 61 times, not just killing but slaughtering him, then walk free? That’s the question Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn asks after the acquittal of Joseph Biedermann , who admitted to inflicting fatal wounds on Terrance Hauser during an early-morning altercation in the complex where both men lived. The answer, in this case, is that you cast yourself as the victim of an attempted homosexual rape, then you throw in all-or-nothing with the jury.Biedermann, now 30, testified that he first met Hauser, 38, at a tavern shortly before the incident. After the bartender refused to serve Biedermann more alcohol, the two, both drunk, repaired to Hauser’s apartment. Biedermann passed out, then awoke to find Hauser holding a sword to his neck, ordering him to disrobe and submit to a sexual act.

Biedermann said he gained control of a dagger and used it to stab Hauser repeatedly in an attempt to escape. Prosecutors say Biedermann was larger and less drunk than Hauser and couldn’t possibly have had to stab him five dozen times in order to escape. In the bloody overkill of the stabbing frenzy some see the hallmark of “gay panic” cases — ones in which defendants suggest, sometimes successfully, that homosexual overtures are themselves sufficient provocation for acts of extreme violence. Rick Garcia, political director of Equality Illinois, said he was “disgusted” by Biedermann’s acquittal. “The gay panic defense is passé but, unfortunately, it still works in some places. It seems to me that this jury based its verdict not on the facts but on deep seated anti-gay sentiment.”

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