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Ohio man is beaten to death in a suspected hate crime

10/08/2004

by Anthony Glassman

Waverly, Ohio--The murder of a gay man on October 2 is being investigated as a possible hate crime, and may result in the death penalty for the alleged killers.

Daniel Fetty, 39, was found severely beaten and naked in a dumpster shortly before 1 AM.

Police had been called to investigate a fight in this town of 4,500 about 50 miles south of Columbus. Patrolman Tim South saw the three suspects, Martin Edward Baxter, 28, Matthew Wayne Ferman, 22, and James Veachel Trent, 19, run behind a nearby building.

South then discovered Fetty and called for an ambulance. Fetty was taken to Pike Community Hospital, then flown to Grant Hospital in Columbus, where he died shortly before 1 pm.

Baxter, Ferman and Trent were arrested within hours of the call, and face charges of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery. Investigators believe they took Fetty's pay from his job at Emmitt House restaurant, where Fetty had worked trying to save enough money for an apartment.

The victim was living in his car after his previous apartment was destroyed in a fire. He was also hearing-impaired and used a hearing aid, leading to speculation that he might not have heard his attackers before they set upon him.

Friends of Fetty, however, believe that his sexual orientation may have also been a motive for the attack, and Pike County Prosecutor Robert Junk in investigating that possibility.

"That's something we want to make sure we get to the bottom of," he said. "We don't want to rule out anything."

Junk and the investigators are looking at the fact that Fetty was stripped naked as one of the indicators that robbery was not the sole, or even primary, motive of the attack.

"That factor and the severity of the beating," he said, "this is something we, and I, take seriously and we will check it out."

He noted that in most cases of robbery, someone might be punched or stabbed, but not severely beaten.

"I'm relieved that the police there moved so quickly to identify these guys and make arrests," said Gloria McCauley, executive director of the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization in Columbus.

She was concerned about the severity of the beating, noting that it often means a hate crime.

"That to me is what causes flags to be raised," she said. "In robbery, you don't usually have that kind of overkill. We certainly want to know what other motivations are there other than robbery."

At the October 4 arraignment, the three were charged and bond was set at $1 million each.

Junk is still considering whether to seek the death penalty. He said that, even if they are convicted of something less than aggravated murder, which can carry the death penalty in itself, a lesser murder charge coupled with aggravated robbery can also carry death penalty specifications.

A grand jury was to be convened on October 7.

Junk was incensed at the brutality of the crime, and concerned about the possibility of a hate crime.

"If the evidence is true, it's a pretty horrific crime regardless" of whether or not it is a hate crime, he said.

Junk made it clear that the investigation of a hate crime will continue.

"There's no such thing as having too much evidence or too much information," he noted.

Source: Gay People's Chronicle



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