Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jury deliberates gay murder case

Bartow, Florida - Jury deliberations begin Thursday at 10 a.m. in the murder trial of A Polk County man accused in the brutal stabbing murder of a gay man. Nearly two years ago, 25-year-old Ryan Skipper of Winter Haven was stabbed 19 times then dumped on the side of a road.

After the arrest, Investigators said Twenty-year-old William David Brown Junior and 21-year-old Joseph Bearden bragged about killing a homosexual.

Bearden is the first to go on trial. Brown will be tried later this year.

In closing arguments on Wednesday, Polk County Assistant State Attorney Cass Castillo noted the extraordinarily violent manner of Ryan Skipper's death. The victim stabbed repeatedly, including several times in the neck. The medical examiner testified stab wounds to Skipper's back may have been made after his death.

Cass Castillo said the injuries were the result of "great rage." "The extent of the injuries in this case are the results of hatred, contempt, utter disregard for another human being because he is gay," Castillo said.

Defense attorney Bryron Hileman argued witness testimony in the case was unreliable. In closing arguments, Hileman said "They are, at the time, at the very least heavy drug users and that effects one's ability to perceive and describe what is going on, and thus makes that person's testimony potentially suspect."

If convicted, Joseph Bearden could face the death penalty.

(Source :

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