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Charges in beating carry death penalty

12/12/2004

WAVERLY, Ohio -- Two men accused in the beating death of a 39-year-old homeless man face new charges that carry the death penalty.

Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk now says the Oct. 2 death of Daniel Fetty is a hate crime, carried out partly because the victim was gay.

Martin Baxter, 28, of Waverly, and co-defendant Matthew Ferman, 22, of Waverly, pleaded innocent on Friday to new aggravated murder charges.

A third man, James Trent Jr., 19, of Piketon, was convicted on Dec. 6 of involuntary manslaughter and is expected to testify against the other two, Junk said. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Out of the view of his attorney, Baxter said Friday that he did not hurt the restaurant worker. He said it was Ferman's anger over a missing pack of cigarettes, not Fetty's homosexuality, that led to the attack.

Junk would not elaborate on why he called the attack a hate crime.

Investigators say Fetty was beaten with bricks, boards and bottles, stripped naked and left in a trash bin in this city about 60 miles south of Columbus.

"I was there, I know what happened," Baxter said. "Fetty was buying drinks, and Ferman said he took his cigarettes."

He said he was drunk and high at the time.

He said he does not understand the new charges, which also include aggravated robbery, abduction and tampering with evidence.

"This is crazy," Baxter said. "That indictment's taller than I am. It's like a dream. And I wish it all would end."

Employees at the Emmitt House, the downtown restaurant where Fetty recently started working, said Baxter's version of the event makes no sense.

"Daniel wouldn't do something like that in the first place," waitress Katy Houseman said of Fetty, a gentle-mannered man who was nearly deaf and lived out of an old car. "If he'd wanted a cigarette, he'd ask for one. He wouldn't take something."

Source: Ohio News Network



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