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Two charged with murder in man's beating death

A third may plea-bargain in possible hate crime


by Anthony Glassman

Waverly, Ohio--Two of the three men arrested in the beating death of a deaf gay man were indicted by a grand jury on October 8.

Matthew Wayne Ferman, 22, and Martin Edward Baxter, 28, face penalties of 20 years to life on aggravated murder charges and three to 10 years on robbery charges.

James Veachel Trent, 19, is negotiating a plea agreement with Pike County Prosecutor Robert Junk in exchange for testifying against Ferman and Baxter. His indictment will come after negotiations have been completed.

The three are accused of robbing Daniel Fetty, 39, in the wee hours of October 2, and beating him with bricks and boards before stripping him and throwing him into a trash container. Police found Fetty while responding to a report of a fight, and the three men were arrested shortly afterward.

Fetty was flown to Grant Hospital in Columbus, where he died twelve hours after being found by police.

All three suspects are being held on $1 million bond at Ross County Jail in Chillicothe. It was the first slaying in four decades in Waverly, about 60 miles south of Columbus.

"He was a gentle man, and I'm sure that it did not require three men armed with boards and bricks to simply overtake him and steal his cash, nor could he have instigated such a vicious attack," said Alicia Purdy, who had been Fetty's roommate when he lived in Texas.

Fetty had been living in his car after his apartment was destroyed in a fire. He was working at a local restaurant to save money for a new apartment. The trio is accused of robbing him of his week's pay, given to him earlier on the night of his death.

Fetty has relatives in the area, but Purdy believes that they were not close.

Also, "Dano was a proud man and did not want to 'mooch' off family members," she said.

Purdy is concerned that Waverly police chief Larry Roe is not investigating the incident as a hate crime. Roe did not return numerous calls for comment, but has told other publications the incident is being investigated as a robbery.

Prosecutor Junk, however, said that he was keeping the matter open to all possible motivations, although Ohio has no hate crime law. (An "ethnic intimidation" statute, which does not include gays, applies only to five misdemeanors.)

Junk said last week that robbery might not be the primary motive for the crime because Fetty's assailants had stripped him naked.

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

Junk has said this is among the worst crimes he's dealt with.

"I believe Ohio's laws are well behind the times," Purdy said. "These hate crimes are especially heinous because the offenders have formed their opinions and acted on them without any regard for the individual."

"Dano was not just any 'gay man,' he was a brother, a son, a grandson, and a beloved friend."

Source: Gay People's Chronicle

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