The killers of gay Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard six years ago say they were motivated not by homophobia but by the prospect of robbery to fuel a drug binge, the Associated Press reports. “He was pretty well-dressed, had a wallet full of money,” Aaron McKinney said of meeting Shepard at a Laramie bar. “All I wanted to do was beat him up and rob him.” Interviews with the killers air tonight on ABC’s “20/20.” The robbery got out of hand, said McKinney and his buddy, Russell Henderson, and Shepard was beaten into a coma while tied to a fence. The 21-year-old died five days later.
The crime drew condemnation from President Clinton and Congress, and it spurred debate on the effectiveness of hate crime laws. McKinney and Henderson, both 27, are serving life sentences for murder. McKinney said he killed Shepard because he was strung out on methamphetamine, not because Shepard was gay. Henderson agreed, saying “it’s not because me and Aaron had anything against gays or any of that.” Henderson said that McKinney, who had been high on meth for days, set out that night to rob a dealer of $10,000 worth of the drug. McKinney said that at one point, Shepard grabbed his leg and he struck Shepard with his gun and demanded money. Although Shepard handed over his wallet, the beating continued. “Sometimes when you have that rage going through you, there’s no stopping it,” McKinney said. “I’ve attacked my best friends (while) coming off of meth binges.”