October 11, 1999 – Trial For A Hate Crime – Battle Over A Pregnant 12-Year Old
October 11, 1999 – News for this day began with the opening phase of Jury selection for the murder trial of Matthew Shepard, whose beating and torture ignited a firestorm of protest throughout the country, and calls for stiffer penalties for Hate Crimes. Shepard, a gay 21-year old University of Wyoming student was robbed, beaten, tortured and tied to a fence in a remote area just east of Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. Shepard was robbed of $30, but when the assailants, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, both 21, finally confessed to police, it was determined they beat and tortured Shepard because he was gay and the robbery was a ruse to cover up the real crime. Theories went back and forth over the reasons and the nature of the crime, but on this day the trial began. The murder and horrifying description of the crime created a media invasion of the town, and it trained a sharp focus on the nature of hate crimes and the issue of violence towards the gay community in America in 1999.
In other news – Colt, the gun manufacturer, said it was ending retail sales on most of its handguns and concentrating on selling to the Military and Police agencies and collectors. The move was reported to be a measure to limit its liability in lawsuits.
Meanwhile, in London – the controversy over the pregnancy of a 12 year old girl, and the issue of abortion on this day. The matter of Church Assistance came under fire during the pregnancy of a pre-teenager, when Scotland‘s Catholic Church stepped in with financial assistance at her family’s request so she wouldn’t have to seek an abortion. Abortion rights groups argued that terminating the pregnancy would give the girl her childhood back. The Church and the girl claimed that the unborn baby should have a chance at a childhood too.
And that’s a small sample of what went on, this October 11, 1999 as reported by The CBS World News Roundup.