The Laramie Project (2002) Movie Script

Now, I first thought the two Kids
who did this came from someplace else.
When I learned that they had grown up
in laramie, I was just floored.
In Laramie, Wyoming...
...a young man is in a deep coma,
near death from a savage beating.
When I first found out,
I just thought it was horrible.
Nobody deserves that.
I don't care who you are.
A college freshman was beaten...
...tied to a fence, and left for dead
in Wyoming this weeK.
You'd liKe to thinK
this was somebody from out of town.
Somebody who comes through
and beats somebody up.
But if we're talKing about somebody
who's been beaten repeatedly... somebody from our town,
that certainly offends us.
If you asked me before, I would have
told you laramie is a beautiful town.
It's secluded, you know, secluded enough... you can have your own identity.
Now, after Matthew...
...we're a town defined
by an accident or a crime.
We've become Waco or Jasper.
We're a noun, or a definition, or a sign.
- Do you mind if I tape this?
- No, I don't mind.
Great. Thank you again for taking time
out of your rehearsal to talk to me.
I must tell you, when I first heard
you were thinking of coming here...
...when you first called me...
...I wanted to say:
"You just kicked me in the stomach.
Why are you doing this to me?"
And then I thought, "Well, that's stupid.
You're not doing this to me."
And more importantly... students need to talk.
When this first happened,
they started to talk about it.
Then the media descended
and all dialogue stopped.
We're not reporters.
I know. I read your last play.
You did?
Gave me an idea of what you do.
Moises called, saying he had an idea
for his next theatre project...
...but there was a somberness to his voice,
so I asked him what it was all about.
He said he wanted to do a piece
about what's happening in Wyoming.
Leigh told me that the company was
thinking of going down to laramie...
...and conducting interviews,
and did I want to come?
I did, I said, yeah, but...
...I was hesitant, because as a gay man...
I mean...
...a kid had just been killed there
because he was gay.
What exactly do you want?
I'd like you to give me names of people
who might want to talk to us.
I'd like to talk to your students
and your friends.
I want to hear from the people of the town.
I have never done anything like this before.
How do you get people to talk to you?
What do you ask?
It's still very raw for us here.
I understand, but this is no longer
about laramie or Wyoming.
This is about the whole country.
To me, it's still about laramie.
The company has agreed to go to laramie
and interview the people of the town.
I'm scared, because I don't know
what I'm gonna do to ensure their safety.
I made a preliminary contact...
...with the head of the theatre department
at the University of Wyoming...
...and hopefully that will lead
to more interviews.
You're late.
I know.
We talked for a lot longer than I planned.
What did Rebecca say?
She gave me names of people
who might talk to us.
Townspeople, ranchers, some students.
We should contact these people first.
Let's see if anybody's gonna talk.
- Great.
- You okay? What?
Please, don't do that here.
- Where are you folks from?
- New York.
And what brings you to town?
We're just passing through.
- Is linda home?
- Nope, she's working.
Okay. Can you tell her that Amanda
stopped by and I'll be at the Ranger Motel?
And who are you?
I'm with a theatre company.
Rebecca Hilliker told her about me.
I never heard of her. What do you want?
We're writing a play about laramie
and the Matthew Shepard incident.
Why are you doing that?
We think it's a story that...
Sticking your nose into something
we don't need to talk about.
- That's over and done.
- I understand your feeling...
We don't want any more of this.
You're not wanted here.
Where are you going with this story?
When the play is finished,
we'll bring it around to laramie.
- And you're gonna use our words?
- That's the idea.
I've been close enough to the case
to know many of the people.
I have a daughter,
works in the Sheriff's department.
As for the "gay issue"...
...I don't give a damn one way or another
as long as they don't bother me.
And even if they did,
I'd just say, "No, thank you."
That's the attitude
of most of the laramie population.
They might poke one in a bar situation,
you know.
If they had been drinking,
they might smack one in the mouth...
...but then they'd just walk away.
Laramie is live-and-let-live.
My dear brothers and sisters, I am here
today to bring you the Word of the Lord.
In my ministry, I've found a simple truth
that I'd like to share with you today.
It's this:
The Word is either sufficient...
...or it is not.
Scientists tell me that human history...
...that the world is five billion
or six billion years old.
After all, what's a billion years,
give or take?
But the Bible tells me
that human history is 6,000 years old.
The Word is either sufficient or it is not.
In laramie, population 26,687...
...the first thing to greet us was Wal Mart.
This could be any main drag in America.
Fast food chains, gas stations.
But as we drove into the downtown area,
by the railroad tracks...
...the buildings still retained the shape
of a turn-of-the-century western town.
As we passed the University Inn...
...on the sign where amenities such as
heated pool, cable TV are usually touted... said, "Hate is not a Laramie value."
So how did you wind up here?
Well, when it came time to go to college... parents couldn't really afford
to send me to college.
I knew that I wanted to study theatre...
...and I knew that if I wanted to go
to college, I had to get on a scholarship.
There's this competition
that they have every year.
It's like a Wyoming state
high school competition thing.
I came to the University, to the theatre
department, to look for some good scenes.
I asked the professor, I said,
"You know, I need a killer scene."
And he's like,
"Here. Here you go. This is it."
- What was it?
- That was Angels in America.
I read that and I'm like, this is okay.
I can win Best Scene
if I just do a good enough job.
So I tell my parents, so they can come
see me in the competition.
They brought me in the room
and they sat me down...
...and they said that they wouldn't come
to see me if I did that scene.
- They couldn't.
- Why is that?
You know, because they believe it's wrong,
because homosexuality's wrong.
All I remember from the competition
is just standing ovation.
- Really?
- Just...
We won. We got first place.
One of the best moments of my life.
- Did your parents come?
- Parents weren't there.
So why'd you do it?
Actually, if I'm really honest, I think...
...I just wanted to win, really.
It was just the greatest scene.
I just wanted to win.
Today, for the first time, I met someone
who actually knew Matthew Shepard.
Trish Steger, owner of a shop in town,
referred to him as Matt.
Matt used to come into my shop.
That's how I knew him.
It was the first time I ever heard him
referred to as Matt instead of Matthew.
Well, what was he like?
I don't know.
How does any one person
ever tell about another?
Matt was a blunt little shit.
Know what I'm saying?
He was a little guy, 5'2".
Soaking wet, I bet you (7 pounds, tops.
They were saying he weighed 110 pounds.
I don't believe it.
I say, "Are you Matthew Shepard?"
He says, "Yeah, I'm Matthew Shepard,
but don't call me Matthew, or Mr. Shepard.
"Don't call me none of that.
My name is Matt.
"And I want you to know that I am gay,
and we're gonna be going to a gay bar.
"Do you have a problem with that?"
I said, "No. How are you paying?"
The fact of the matter is,
laramie doesn't have any gay bars.
For that matter, neither does Wyoming.
He was hiring me to take him down
to Fort Collins, Colorado...
...which is about an hour away.
He was struggling when he first came here.
Reaching out, trying to fit in.
- I'm sorry I'm late.
- My sister Romaine.
She was a close friend of Matthew's.
Matthew really wanted
to get into political affairs.
That was all his big interest was,
watching CNN and MSNBC.
Those were the only TV stations
I ever saw his TV tuned in to.
So why did he move to laramie?
He told me he was thinking about
going back to school.
So I told him, "Go to the University
of Wyoming, go to laramie.
"You can really find a home there."
I was Matthew's academic advisor,
so I Knew him in a very specific context.
But I can tell you that Matthew
was very shy when he first came in... the point of being somewhat mousy,
I'd almost say.
But soon, his shyness began to give way
to this person...
...that was excited about this track
that he was going to embark on.
Whenever I think of Matthew,
I think of his...
...incredible beaming smile.
He'd walk into a room and just be, like...
He'd smile at everyone.
He made you feel great.
He was just starting to say:
"There are opportunities here.
There are things I can do in this world.
"I can be important."
I heard from Matt
about 48 hours before the attack.
He told me he'd just joined
the gay and lesbian group on campus...
...and he was really enjoying it,
getting ready for Pride Week.
He was totally stoked about school.
He was really happy being there.
I can only say this in retrospect, of course.
I think that's where he was headed,
towards human rights.
Let me tell you something.
There's more gay people in Wyoming
than meets the eye.
- You think?
- I know for a fact.
I mean, they're not particularly...
What do you call the queens,
the gay people, queens?
You know,
the run-around, faggot-type people.
They're more like the ones who'II...
...throw a bale of hay, jump on a horse,
brand them and kick ass.
Know what I'm saying? As I always say... don't fuck with a Wyoming queer
'cause they'll fucking kick you in your ass.
- But that's not the point.
- What is the point?
People of Wyoming do not give a damn
one way or the other if you're gay...
...if you're straight, bisexual,
trisexual, it doesn't matter.
- Really?
- That's what I just said. It doesn't matter.
I was the first out lesbian
or gay faculty member...
...and that's in 1((2.
That's not that long ago.
They asked me at the interview
what my husband did.
So I came out then.
When I first moved out here,
I knew it was gonna be hard as a gay man.
There would be times
when I would go to Denver...
...and I would go to the gay bars there, and
people would ask me where I was from...
...and I would say, "laramie, Wyoming."
And I met so many men down there
from Wyoming.
So many gay men who grew up here
and they were like:
"This is not a place where I can live.
How can you live there? I had to get out."
But every once in awhile, there'd be a guy:
"Gosh, I miss laramie.
"I mean, I really love it there.
That's where I want to live."
And they'd get this starry-eyed look,
and I think...
...if that is where you wanna live, do it.
So I get into my office one day and
I have a message to call this woman back.
So I call her back and she goes,
"I hear you are a lesbian.
"I hear you are one." And I'm like, "uh-huh?"
She goes, "I'm one, too." She wanted
to come over and meet me immediately.
She also warned me about the fact...
...that there's other lesbians in this town
who would not be seen with me.
That just to be seen with me
would taint them irreparably.
That just to be seen with me
would be a big problem.
I love this land.
I mean...
...I really love this land.
I'm gonna make this brief, quick, just
get it over with, but it will be everything.
Factual, just the facts. 10:00.
I punch in, my regular time for Tuesdays.
At 10:30 we're having karaoke night... there's maybe 20 or 30 people
milling around.
That's when Matthew Shepard
comes in alone, he comes in and...
...he sits right where you're sitting
right now, orders himself a Heineken.
So what can I tell you about Matt?
Well, manners...
...politeness, intelligence.
Taking care of me, as in tips.
Everything, he just offers conversation.
He comes in,
he's always dressed nice, clean-cut.
Didn't seem to have any worries.
He wasn't waiting on anybody.
He just wanted to enjoy his drink
and the company around.
I guess it was maybe 11:30 or 11:45.
That's when Russell Henderson
and Aaron McKinney came in.
They come in, approach the bar,
they sit here and order a pitcher...
...and as you know, they pay for the thing
entirely in dimes and quarters...
...which, let me tell you,
is something you just don't forget.
You don't forget something like that.
$5.50 in dimes and quarters?
It's a freaking nightmare
for a bartender.
Money meant nothing to Matthew
because he grew up with a lot of it.
He'd have handed over his wallet
in a second...
...because money meant nothing to him.
I mean, his shoes might have
meant something, but...
They can say it was robbery
all they want to, but I don't buy it.
Not even for an iota of a second.
Iook, when they came in,
Henderson and McKinney... me, they didn't seem
to be intoxicated at all.
They came in,
they order a pitcher of beer...
...they take it back there into the pool area,
and they just kept to themselves.
It was going on for half an hour...
...and then I noticed Russell and Aaron
had been talking with Matthew Shepard.
Some people are saying
he made a pass at them.
Hell, you don't pick up regular people.
Aaron and I have been together
for two years.
Aaron said that a guy walked up to him
and said he was gay...
...and wanted to get with him and Russ.
Aaron's really bad about that.
He doesn't like to be around gay people
at all, and neither does Russ.
They just don't like them at all.
So he got aggravated with it
and said he was straight...
...and he didn't wanna have anything
to do with it, and he walked off.
He said that's when him and Russ
went into the bathroom...
...and decided to pretend that they were
gay and get him in the truck and rob him.
They wanted to teach him a lesson
not to come on to straight people.
I'm not excusing their actions,
but it seems to be partially his fault...
...and partially the guys who did it,
so, you know...
...maybe it's 50-50.
They stated that Matt came on to them,
that he approached them.
I absolutely, positively disbelieve
and refute that statement 100 percent.
I'll give you two reasons why.
One, character reference.
Why would he approach them? He wasn't
approaching anyone else in the bar.
Okay, they say he's gay,
that he was a flaming gay.
He's gonna come on to people like that.
Bullshit! He never came on to me.
I mean, hello! Come on.
He's gonna approach these two guys?
And two, territorialism.
Matt was sitting there.
Aaron and Russell were back there.
Upon their first interaction,
they were in Matt's area...
...the area that he had been
seen sitting all night long.
So who approached who by that?
He'd never not talK to someone
for any reason.
If someone started talking to him,
he'd just be like, "Blah, blah, blah."
He had no problem just striking up
a conversation with anybody.
This is what I'm testifying to...
...because basically
I'm the key eyewitness in the case.
Basically, I'm going to be testifying
that I saw Matthew leave.
I saw two individuals leave with Matthew
Shepard, and I didn't see their faces.
I saw the back of their heads. At this time,
McKinney and Henderson aren't around.
You do the math.
I'm not super familiar with that area...
...which now maKes me thinK that
God wanted me to find him.
I was going for a ride on my biKe...
...and I noticed something
just laying there by the fence.
I think it's a scarecrow.
Halloween's coming up.
I think it's a Halloween gag.
I even noticed his chest
moving up and down.
I still thought it was a dummy.
I thought it was some kind of mechanism.
But when I...
When I saw hair...
...his hair...
...I knew it was a human being.
So what'd you do?
I ran to the nearest house
as fast as I could and called the police.
The Sheriff's Department
held a news conference today.
They're investigating the attempted
murder of 22-year-old Matthew Shepard.
The Sheriff says
they found the man badly beaten...
...and unconscious,
tied to a fence last night.
The brutal attacK left
Matthew Shepard in a coma.
The bicyclist who found him
said he first thought it was a scarecrow.
In jail now, charged with the crime...
...21-year-old Russell Henderson
and Aaron McKinney, of Kidnapping...
The victim, Matthew Shepard... in very critical condition at this hour
in Poudre Valley Hospital.
The arraignment tooK place on Friday
around lunchtime.
More details about the case
had come out... the fact that the perpetrators
themselves were kids.
Kids, local Kids, that everyone who's from
around here has some relationship to.
So then a judge comes in
and does a reading of the facts.
The Defendants, Aaron James McKinney
and Russell Arthur Henderson...
...met Matthew Shepard
at the Fireside Bar.
After Mr. Shepard confided he was gay...
...the subjects deceived Mr. Shepard...
...into leaving with them
in their vehicle to a remote area.
En route to said location, Mr. Shepard
was struck in the head with a pistol...
...and upon arrival at said area...
...both subjects tied their victim
to a buck fence...
...robbed him, tortured him,
and continued to beat and terrorize him.
When I got to the fence,
I seen what appeared to be a young man...
...13 or 14 years of age,
because he was so tiny, laying there...
...and he was bound
to the bottom of the pole.
- What did you do?
- I did the best I could.
He was covered in dried blood
all over his head.
The only place that
there wasn't any blood...
...was what appeared to be where
he had been crying down his face.
You know...
...he did not look normal.
I could tell that he had
a very harsh head wound.
You expect these Kinds of injuries
from somebody...
...crashing down a hill
in a car at 80 miles an hour.
You expect to see gross injuries
from something like that...
...this horrendous, terrible thing.
But you don't expect to see someone
doing this to another person.
Both defendants were later
contacted by officers...
...from the laramie Police Department,
who observed inside their pickup...
...a credit card
and a pair of black patent-leather shoes...
...belonging to the victim,
Matthew Shepard.
The thing that shocked me is,
it was a pristine crime scene.
How do you mean?
The tire tracks,
the impressions that the tire made...
...they were perfect
because of the sandy soil.
And we found a carpet fragment
from inside the truck.
That will always shock me until this day.
In Wyoming, the wind's so strong... usually never find something
like that at an exterior crime scene.
His hands were thumbs out,
what we call the cuffing position.
It's how we handcuff people.
He was tied with a real thin white rope...
...and it was wound around the bottom of
the pole about four inches off the ground.
His shoes were missing.
He was tied extremely tight,
so I used my boot knife.
I tried to slip it in there,
between the rope and his wrist.
I had to be extremely careful... as not to harm Matthew any further.
I was yelling at him at the top
of my lungs, "Hey, wake up!"
just trying to get anything out of him.
He didn't move, he didn't flinch,
he didn't anything.
We rolled him over onto his left side.
When we did that, he stopped breathing.
I immediately got him back on his back.
And that was just enough
of an adjustment.
It gave me just enough room for me to
slip my knife in there and to cut him free.
And then Rob drove the ambulance to
Ivinson Hospital's emergency room.
Once we saw Matthew, it was obvious
that his care was beyond our capabilities.
Phoned the neurosurgeon
over at Poudre Valley...
...and Matthew was on his way
in an hour and 15 minutes, I think.
A couple of days later,
they showed me a picture of Matthew.
I would have never recognized him.
Said defendants left the victim...
...tied to the fence, begging for his life.
You'd liKe to thinK
it was somebody from out of town...
...that's come through
and beaten up somebody.
But when you're seeing someone
who's been beaten...
...repeatedly by someone
in our own town... that certainly offends us.
And that's a good word.
It offends us.
The defendants will remain in the custody
of the County Sheriff's Department...
...until dates can be set for their trials.
It was huge.
It was herds,
and we are talking hundreds of reporters...
...which maKes a huge dent
in this town's population.
Laramie, Wyoming,
often called "the gem city of the plains"... now at the eye of the storm.
People would like to think
what happened is the exception...
There were reporters everywhere,
news trucKs in town, on campus...
...and we are not used to
that type of attention.
Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson
came from the poor side of town.
This small city that bills itself as...
..."Wyoming's hometown" is wrestling
with its attitudes towards gay men.
It's tough business,
as Matt Shepard Knew...
...and as all his friends Know,
to be gay in cowboy country.
And to get that kind of exposure under
such tragic circumstances...
...under circumstances that we hadn't even
wrapped our heads and hearts around...
The majority of people here
are good people.
You get bad apples once in a while.
Our citizens are not like that at all.
You people are making my son guilty
before he's even had a trial.
How can this happen?
I can't understand how someone
can even do something like that.
You have your own lifestyle,
you should have it.
- It's pretty much live-and-let-live.
- It's live-and-let-live.
I am outraged and sickened by the heinous
crime committed on Matthew Shepard.
A young gay man is in a deep coma.
It's a crime that goes beyond despicable.
Let it be known in the nation
this is not the University of Wyoming.
This is not what we're about.
Had this been a heterosexual,
this wouldn't have made the news.
I don't think there's any problem
gay people deal with here.
We had these guys in jail in less than
a day. I think that's pretty damn good.
Hundreds of people are urging Congress
to pass a federal law banning hate crimes.
I would like to urge the people
of Wyoming against overreacting... a way that gives one group
special rights over others.
We will wait and see
if the vicious beating and torture...
...of Matthew Shepard
was motivated by hate.
Oh, my God.
Anybody else wanna do this?
Matthew Shepard was admitted
in critical condition... approximately (:15 on October 7.
When he arrived, he was unresponsive
and breathing support was being provided.
Matthew's major injuries upon arrival
consisted of hypothermia...
...and of a fracture from behind his head... just in front of the right ear.
This has caused bleeding in the brain,
as well as pressure on the brain.
Friday night the parents arrived...
...and I went and introduced myself
to Dennis and Judy.
It was awful. Those poor people.
Matthew's temperature has fluctuated
over the last 24 hours...
...between (8 and 106 degrees.
We arranged a police escort
to bring them up.
We set them up
in one of our conference rooms...
...gave them food around the clock,
gave them a place to stay.
The following is a statement from them.
"First of all,
we want to thank the American public...
"...for their kind thoughts about Matthew...
"...and their fond wishes
for his speedy recovery.
"We appreciate your prayers
and good will...
"...and we know that...
"...they are something that Matthew
would appreciate, too."
I went up and said:
"You all tell me what you want me to do
or what you want me to say...
"...or anything you need,
and we'll provide it for you."
"We also have a special request
for members of the media.
"We ask that you respect our privacy,
as well as Matthew's...
" we can concentrate
all of our efforts, thoughts...
"...and love on our son.
"Thank you very much."
Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney
have pled not guilty... the charges of Kidnapping,
aggravated robbery...
...and attempted murder in the first degree.
Russell was just so sweet.
He's the one that was the Eagle Scout.
His whole presence was just quiet
and sweet. He was raised a Mormon.
He was active in that when he was
younger, as an elder in the Church.
Of course it doesn't make sense to me.
I know people snap and whatever...
...and like I said, it wasn't a real intimate
relationship. I was just his landlord.
I remember at the Christmas party...
...he was totally drunK out of his mind,
you Know, liKe we all were.
He wasn't belligerent. He didn't change.
His personality didn't change.
He was still the same little meek Russell.
Aaron was a good kid.
That's why I was shocked
when I heard this.
He had been living out with his girl.
They just started dating last summer.
They must have gotten pregnant as soon
as they started dating. They had a kid.
21 years old,
but he's running around with a kid.
When I first heard,
I thought it was really awful.
I don't know whether Aaron was fucked up
or coming down or what...
...but Matthew had money.
Shit, he had better clothes than I did.
Matthew was a little rich bitch.
You shouldn't call him that. It's not right.
I'm not saying he's a bad guy,
I'm just saying...
...he's in the wrong place at the
wrong time, he said the wrong thing.
Aaron was always dressing up big,
you know, big clothes...
...Tommy Hilfiger, you know.
Polo, Gucci, I don't know.
It probably pissed him off that Matthew
was gay, because he didn't like...
The gay people I've seen him interact with
or that I've heard him talk about...
...he was fine with
as long as they didn't hit on him...
...or as long as, you Know,
it didn't come up.
When I knew Aaron,
he was just a young kid.
He was trying to fit in, acting tough,
acting cool. But you know what?
You could get in his face about it...
...and he would back down
like he was some kind of scared kid.
If I saw Aaron right now, I'd just be like,
"Why did you fuck up like that?"
I wanna shake him, you know?
"What were you thinking?
What in the hell were you thinking?"
This is her.
Hi, Doctor.
How is he?
I see.
Can you hang on for a moment?
Mom, can you hang this up?
I'm gonna take it in there.
I'm here.
The part I wasn't telling you about before... that Reggie Fluty is my daughter.
When she told me she wanted
to be a police officer...
...I thought there was not
a better choice for her.
She could handle whatever came her way.
And then this happens.
That was the hospital.
Matthew Shepard is HIV positive, and...
...they said I've been exposed.
They said I've been exposed
to the AIDS virus.
Because I've been building
the lean-tos for the Ilamas...
...and I have a bunch of open cuts
on my hands, and...
...I got his blood on my hands.
How did you get it on your hands?
We have shit gloves, you know,
and I kept putting them on and... keep putting them on,
and they keep breaking, so...
...finally, I ran out.
You touched him without gloves?
You cannot let
a human being just sit there.
Don't hesitate,
that's what goes through your mind.
Don't hesitate, all the time.
So you just keep on moving,
and you take care of Matthew...
...and you try to find an open airway,
and that's what you do.
Quite frankly,
I wanted to lash out at somebody.
Not Matthew, please understand that.
Not one of us was mad at Matthew.
We maybe wanted to squeeze
McKinney's head off.
And I think about Henderson...
You know, two absolutely...
...human beings caused so much grief
for so many people.
They wanna start me
on these AZT drugs immediately.
If you...
...if you start them within 36 hours...
...maybe that can stop you
from getting the disease.
This has been just terrible
for my whole family...
...but mostly for her and her kids.
Those drugs, the AZT drugs.
She throws up every day.
She cries so much,
she's afraid to touch her Kids.
I just hope she doesn't go before me.
No matter how you dice it,
I did have the opportunity.
If I had had amazing 20-20 hindsight...
...I had the opportunity to stop what
occurred that night. I could have.
I should have Known these guys
shouldn't be talKing to him.
I shouldn't have had my head down...
...while I was washing dishes
for those 20 seconds.
All those little things I could've done,
and I could've stopped this.
So what the hell was I thinking?
And I Keep seeing that picture in my head...
...of when I found him.
And it is not pleasant whatsoever.
I wanna get it out. I don't want it in there.
That's a big part of it for me,
having to see that picture... my head. I just don't want it in there.
Matthew Shepard's
the first gay person I ever saw.
It's Kind of unbelievable to me that
I was the person that found him...
...because the big question
with my religion is:
Why did God want me to find him?
"Let your light shine
"In the darKness
"Before the dawn
"No more sorrow
"In the nighttime
"let it shine
"Oh, lord, let it shine"
Candlelight vigils were held
around the country last night.
Denver, Fort Collins, Detroit, Chicago...
...Washington DC, Atlanta...
All expressing hopes for
Matthew's full recovery.
I can't stop crying.
This is what I was trying to stop.
This is what I was trying to stop.
We must do more to deal...
...with violent bigotry, hate crimes...
I hope that in the grief of this moment
and in the shared outrage across America...
...Americans will once again
search their hearts...
...and do what they can to reduce
their own fear and anxiety...
...and anger at people who are different.
And I hope that Congress will pass
the hate crimes legislation.
I thinK the gay community
is taKing this as an advantage:
"This is a good time for us to exploit this."
They made it sound like
it was ten murders instead of one.
They're accusing the ranchers of being
unreasonable and unsympathetic...
...because of how he was...
And what his persuasions were.
Well, he would certainly
be welcome in our home.
We'd visit, sit down, have a cup of coffee.
What did you think when you heard
two boys from your town did this?
I certainly don't approve of homosexuals...
...but I don't think anybody has a right
to do what those two boys did.
Where do you think that comes from,
their hatred towards homosexuals?
I think what most people fear
in the gay community... that sexuality is
their number one concern.
Not many people condone it...
When you wear it on your sleeve
like a banner...
There's this whole idea,
"You leave me alone, I leave you alone."
It's even in some of the western literature.
"Live and let live."
That is such crap.
Basically, what it boils down to...
...if I don't tell you I'm a fag,
you won't beat the crap out of me.
What's so great about that?
That's a great philosophy?
I'll sit in church and the reverend
will tell you flat out...
...he does not agree
with homosexuality, right?
I don't feel like I know enough
about certain things...
...just to be able to say
that homosexuality is right...
...when I've been raised my whole life
that homosexuality is wrong.
My parents brought me up Catholic.
I was brought up
to love the sinner, hate the sin.
Iove the person for who they are,
but condemn them...
...for what they do. Condemn the lifestyle.
I would have to say now
I don't agree with it.
I don't agree, and maybe that's just
because I couldn't do it...
...but I don't hate them,
I won't persecute them.
I'm not gonna let this get in between
me and the other person at all...
...or in between you and I.
Not at all.
It's preached in schools
that being gay is okay.
If my kids asked me,
I'd set them down and I'd tell them:
"This is what gay people do."
"This is what animals do, okay?"
I'd tell them, "This is the life.
This is the lifestyle. This is what they do."
And I'd say,
"This is why I believe it's wrong."
Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!
In New YorK, the protests for
Matthew Shepard turned into a near riot.
Police on horses were pushing
into the crowds.
The whole world is watching!
As of (:00 a.m. Today, Matthew Shepard
remains in critical condition...
...with severe head injuries in the
surgical neuro intensive care unit.
As I told you before,
it's not a lifestyle with which I agree.
You still feel that way?
The family continues to emphasize...
...that the media respect their privacy.
The family also wants to thank
the American public...
...for their concern
and kind thoughts for Matthew.
We went to the candle vigil and... was so good to be with people
who felt liKe shit.
I Kept feeling liKe
I don't deserve to feel this bad.
Somebody got up and said, "Come on...
"...let's show the world that laramie
is not this kind of a town."
But it is this kind of a town.
If it wasn't, then why did this happen here?
I mean, that's a lie,
because it happened here.
So how could it not be a town
where this Kind of thing happens?
How can you even say that?
We have to mourn this, and
we have to be sad, but we live in a town...
...a state, a country
where shit like this happens.
People are trying to distance
themselves from this crime...
...and we need to own this crime, I feel.
Everyone needs to own it.
We are like this.
We are like this. We are like this.
Not having to deal that much with
the gay community here in laramie...
...once we started working
into the case and actually...
...talking to people that were gay, realizing
what their underlying fears were...
...that's when it sort of hit home.
This is America.
You don't have the right to feel that fear.
Do you think a lot of people
in laramie feel the same way?
We're always gonna have people
that hold up the old ideals...
...and I was probably one of them
14 months ago.
But I'm not gonna put up with it anymore
or listen to it.
And if they don't like my views on it, fine.
The door goes both ways.
I've already lost a couple of buddies,
but I don't care.
I feel more comfortable...
...and I can sleep at night now.
- I really wanna thanK you for having us.
- Sure, it's our pleasure.
These gatherings,
this is a recent thing for us.
This really only happened since Matthew.
And there's a relief
in that we finally connected.
It's nice to see
there are a lot of us in laramie.
Is everybody in the company gay?
No, just the three of us.
- Are you out?
- Yes.
I wasn't out before, actually.
But I thought, "Probably they all know,
but I'm not gonna tell anyone."
In the long run,
your self-esteem just becomes shit...
...and I just couldn't live like that anymore.
A lot of people decided that
they didn't wanna hide anymore.
I still don't feel that free to be out here.
No one's asking, I'm not telling.
I've always been out and I know
how to take care of myself, but...
...since the episode,
I've been irrationally terrified...
...and what that means is, we don't let
our son walk around at night alone.
Every time I see a pickup truck do a U-turn,
I think it's coming after me...
...and I'm shaking so badly,
I have to stop what I'm doing.
I think it's because...
...somewhere inside,
we all know it could happen to us anytime.
Since our last medical update...
...Matthew Shepard has remained in
critical condition with severe head injuries.
As of today,
the hospital will no longer offer...
...medical updates on a scheduled basis.
If Matthew's medical condition changes...
...we will issue a new medical update...
...and we will immediately contact as many
members of the media as is possible.
Thank you.
All eyes are on laramie, Wyoming, today,
where many are turning their focus... their homecoming parade...
...and the fortunes of the University
of Wyoming football team.
This apartment has windows
on two opposite streets.
One goes north and the other goes south.
That is exactly
the homecoming parade route.
On the day of the parade,
I had a cast on my leg because of a fall...
...and I was very disappointed because
I had heard that some students...
...were gonna be walking
for Matthew Shepard...
...and I wanted to join them, but I couldn't,
so I watched from that window.
It was just...
I'm 52 years old and I'm...
I'm gay.
I've lived here for many years
and I've seen a lot.
And I was very moved
when I saw the tag... the end of the homecoming parade.
It was just a group of people walKing
behind a banner for Matthew Shepard.
But the parade,
it went down to the end of the block...
...made a U-turn around the block...
...and I came to the other side
of my apartment... watch for it to come south
down this street.
Maybe 10 minutes went by.
And then I saw the most...
...incredible thing.
As the parade came down the street...
...the number of people marching
for Matthew Shepard...
...had grown, liKe, five times.
Can you imagine?
The tag at the end...
...was bigger than the entire parade.
I thought to myself:
"Thank God I got to see this
in my lifetime."
And my second thought was:
"Thank you, Matthew."
I really haven't been
all that involved, per se.
My husband's a highway patrolman.
That's the only way I've known about it.
But when I first found out...
...I just thought it was horrible.
I just...
I can't...
Nobody deserves that.
I don't care who you are.
But I have to tell you,
the media's portraying him as a saint.
They're making him out as a martyr,
and I don't think he was.
Did you know him?
No, I didn't know him...
...but there's so many things...
...I found about him, it's just scary.
About his character, and...
...spreading AIDS, and a few other things.
You know, being...
About the kind of person he was.
He was...
He was just...
...a barfly.
So, I think he...
...pushed himself on, around or,
I don't know. But I think he flaunted it.
Another thing that wasn't brought out.
Same time that happened, that patrolman
was killed and there was nothing.
They didn't say anything
about that old man that killed him.
He was driving down the road.
He shouldn't have been driving
and he killed him.
And there was just a little piece.
And we lost one of our guys.
You know, my husband worked with him.
This man was brand new on the force.
But, I mean, here's one of ours...
...and it was just a little piece in the paper.
But this was such a deliberate crime.
Everybody's got problems.
But why they're exemplifying
Matthew Shepard, I don't know.
A hate crime is a hate crime.
You murder somebody, you hate them.
It has nothing to do if you're a gay
or a prostitute or...
I don't know.
I don't understand.
I don't understand.
November 29, 1998. We're about
to interview Father Roger Schmit.
Here we go.
Two queers and a Catholic priest.
Matthew Shepard...
...has served us well.
You realize that? He has served us well.
I cannot mention anyone...
...who has done more for this community
than Matthew Shepard.
And I'm not gonna sit here and say,
"I was just this bold guy, no fear."
I was scared.
I was very vocal in this community
when this happened... I thought,
"Should we call the Bishop...
"...and ask him permission to do the vigil?"
And I was like:
"Hell, no, I'm not going to do that.
"His permission doesn't make it correct."
And I'm not knocking bishops...
...but what is correct is correct.
You think violence is
what they did to Matthew?
They did do violence to Matthew.
But, you know...
Can I make this personal?
Yeah. Sure.
Every time you are called a fag...
...or you are called a lez or...
- Or a dyke.
- Dyke, yeah, dyke.
Do you realize that is violence?
That is the seed of violence.
I would resent it immensely
if you use anything I said to...
...somehow cultivate that kind of violence.
Well, thank you, Father, for saying that.
Just deal with what is true.
You know what is true.
You need to do your best to say it correct.
These people trust us, you know.
They want...
They want everyone to know
that they are not this crime.
And it's more than clearing laramie's
name, it's clearing their own, and...
...I don't know that we can do that.
- Reverend, hi.
- Yes?
I'm Amanda.
I'm with the theatre company...
...that's been speaking with people
here in laramie.
I see. Well, let me tell you...
...I don't know that I really want to talk
with anybody at all about this incident.
I'm somewhat involved,
and I really don't feel like it's appropriate.
I completely understand. I just wanted
to tell you, I went to your service.
- You went to the services?
- Yes, I did.
- On Sunday?
- Yes.
- Did I meet you?
- Briefly.
You welcomed us in the beginning.
I see.
I will tell you that I am involved.
Half the people in the case...
The girlfriend of the accused
is a member of our congregation...
...and one of the accused has visited.
I think they deserve the death penalty...
...but I will try
to deal with them spiritually.
As far as the victim...
...I know that that lifestyle is legal,
but I will tell you one thing.
I hope Matthew Shepard... he was tied to that fence...
...that he had time to reflect
on a moment when...
...somebody had spoken
the Word of the lord to him...
...and that before he slipped into a coma...
...he had a chance to reflect on his lifestyle.
Thank you, Reverend,
I appreciate your speaking with me.
All right. We better go.
I let him say that to me.
I let him say that to me,
and I didn't say anything back.
At midnight, on Monday, October 12...
...Matthew Shepard's blood pressure
began to drop.
We immediately notified the family,
who were already at the hospital.
At 12:53 a. M...
...Matthew Shepard died.
His family was at his bedside.
The family did release
the following statement.
They again asked me to express
their sincerest gratitude... the entire world...
...for the overwhelming response
to their son.
The family was grateful
that they did not have to...
...make a decision regarding whether or
not to continue life support for their son.
"Like a good son,
he was caring to the end...
"...and removed guilt or stress
from the family.
"He came into the world premature...
"...and left the world premature.
"Matthew's mother said:
We'd been up for 72 hours straight...
...and had gone home
and gone to sleep for half an hour...
...and get up and come,
maybe I was just way...
I don't Know.
While I was reading that statement,
I thought about my own four daughters.
She doesn't have her Kid anymore.
"'Go home...
"'... give your kids a hug...
"'... and don't let a day go by
without telling them that you love them."'
And then we started getting people
sending us all these E-mails and letters.
"Do you cry like a baby on TV
for all your patients, or just the faggots?"
After being thrown into this...
...I guess I didn't understand the magnitude
with which some people hate.
And of all the letters we got,
there were two or three like that.
Most were:
"Thanks for your caring and compassion."
And Matthew...
Matthew got caring and compassion...
...from the moment he got here.
The charges against Russell Henderson
and Aaron McKinney...
...were upgraded to first-degree murder
after Matthew Shepard died on Monday.
If convicted,
the two men could face the death penalty.
I'll tell you what.
If they put those two boys to death... would defeat everything
that Matt would be thinking about them.
Because he would not want
those two to die.
He'd wanna leave them with hope.
Just like the whole world hoped...
...that Matt would survive, right?
This whole thing, you see what I'm saying,
this whole thing ropes around hope.
This whole thing, you see what I'm saying,
this whole thing ropes around hope.
On the day of the funeral,
it was snowing and raining so bad.
By the time I got there,
there were already thousands of people.
Dressed in blacK. Umbrellas everywhere.
They had two churches set up and still
there were hundreds of people outside...
...who couldn't fit inside.
They had this parK set up,
and the parK was full.
"Thou shalt not lie down
with mankind as with womankind.
"It is abomination." Matthew Shepard
lived his life breaking that commandment!
If he repented in his dying hours,
we hope he did, if not...
...he is in Hell along with those killers.
Do you believe in the Bible?
You believe you're supposed to
separate the precious from the vile?
You don't believe that part of the Bible.
You stand there, ignorant of the fact...
After seeing Phelps
protesting at Matthew's funeral...
...and then hearing that he's coming back
to laramie for Russell Henderson's trial...
...I decided that someone needs to stand
toe-to-toe and show the difference.
Some people are gonna be sent to Hell!
And I think you know who you are!
Nobody wouldn't be here if this was just
a murder that the state was gonna handle.
The state handles hundreds of murders.
This murder is different
because the gays...
He's not even from Laramie.
He just travels around the country
doing these demonstrations.
So we're planning an event.
We're calling it "Angel Action."
This 21-year-old little lesbian
is gonna walk the line with him.
Fear not!
You lift up your voice like a trumpet...
...and you show my people
their transgressions!
We are sending the message of God!
God's anger is pure.
And God is gonna send someone to Hell!
That's God's anger!
Now, we wouldn't be here...
Do you want your sons and daughters
to be taught by faggots... your schools?
We're not gonna let that happen!
As soon as they started jury selection...
...everyone was coming into my shop with:
"I don't wanna be on this trial.
I hope they don't call me," or:
"Oh, my God, I got called.
How do I get off?"
Just wanting to get as far away
from it as they could.
Very fearful that they were
gonna have to be part of that jury.
Then I heard
Henderson had to sit in the courtroom...
...while they questioned prospective jurors.
And one of the questions they asKed was:
"Would you be willing...
" put this person to death?"
And I understand a lot
of the comments were:
"Yes, I would."
"Yep, no problem."
Can you imagine hearing that?
Juror after juror...
...after juror.
These are people that he Knows.
No wonder he changed his plea.
You entered a not guilty plea earlier,
Mr. Henderson.
But I understand you wish to change
your plea today?
Yes, sir.
Do you understand that the recommended
sentence here is two life sentences?
Yes, sir.
And do you understand that those may
run concurrently or consecutively?
Yes, sir.
Before the court makes that decision...
...I understand that there are statements
to be made by at least one individual.
Let's proceed with that.
As the grandmother
and the person who raised Russell...
...along with my family...
...we have written the following statement.
"Our hearts ache for the pain and suffering
that the Shepards have went through.
"We have prayed for your family
since the very beginning.
"Many times throughout the day,
I have thought about Matt.
"You will continue to be in our thoughts
and prayers...
" we know that your pain
will never go away.
"You have showed such mercy
and we are so grateful...
"...that you are giving us
all the opportunity to live.
"Your Honor...
"...we, as a family...
"...hope that as you sentence Russell...
"...that you will do it concurrently...
"...for two life terms.
"For the Russell we know and love...
"...we humbly plead, Your Honor...
" not take Russell
completely out of our lives...
Mr. And Mrs. Shepard...
...there is not a moment
that goes by that I don't...
...see what happened that night.
I know what I did was very wrong...
...and I regret greatly what I did.
You have my greatest sympathies
for what happened.
I hope that... day, you will be able to find it
in your hearts to forgive me.
Mr. Henderson...
...this court does not believe that you
really feel any true remorse...
...for your part in this matter.
And I wonder whether you fully realize
the gravity of what you have done.
You drove the vehicle that took
Matthew Shepard to his death.
You bound him to that fence... order that he might be
more savagely beaten...
...and in order that he might not escape
to tell his tale.
You left him out there for 18 hours...
...perhaps having an opportunity
to save his life...
...perhaps having an opportunity
to save his life...
...and you did nothing.
As to count three,
that being felony murder with robbery... will serve a period of imprisonment
for the term of your natural life.
For count one...
...kidnapping... will serve a period of imprisonment
for the term of your natural life.
Sentencing for count one to run
consecutive to sentencing for count three.
After the sentencing, the Mormon Church
decided to excommunicate Russell.
He's got a Mormon home teacher
that visits him in prison every week.
Nobody from the church
is gonna go visit him?
Not supposed to.
They're not supposed to pray for him.
He'll just sort of disappear.
What happened that night?
We need to know.
This town needs to Know.
I need some more light on them.
- I never get tired of this play.
- Try directing it 50 times.
You can relax, just keep the umbrellas up.
I hear you're doing
Angels in America next year.
We have an obligation
to reach our students...
...and the question is, how do you move...
How do you reach a whole state...
...where there is such
deep-seated hostility toward gays?
How do you reach them?
Angels in America is just the beginning.
And guess who's auditioning for the lead?
My parents, right, they're like:
"So what plays are they doing
in school this year?"
"Let's see, Angels in America."
"Angels in America? Isn't that that play?
"It's that scene?
"So you're gonna audition for this?"
And I said:
"Yeah, I am."
Huge argument, right?
It was this huge argument,
and my mom says:
"You know, homosexuality is a sin.
Homosexuality is a sin."
But the best thing
that I knew I had on them...
...was that they had just seen me...
...right before this, onstage in Macbeth.
I murdered this little kid and lady MacDuff
and these two other guys, right?
I'm like, "Mom...
"I just played a murderer tonight,
and you...
"...didn't seem to have
any problem with that."
- So when's the audition?
- Tuesday.
I have never prepared myself
for an audition like this in my life.
Not even close.
Everybody second-guesses
what you're doing.
You get a lot of heavy criticism.
You did everything wrong.
You're not supposed to touch anybody
without gloves and protective gear.
Then they make you out
to be some kind of big hero.
Some Joe Blow down the block,
he could have done a better job than I did.
People do extraordinary things every day.
I think this has really brought home
to my girls...
...what their mom does for a living.
Just a minute.
It's the decision of the
County's Attorney's Office...
...that this will be tried
as a death penalty case.
That's all I have for you now. Thank you.
How can I protest
if the Shepards want McKinney dead?
I just can't interfere in that.
But on a personal level,
I knew Aaron in grade school.
He wasn't called Aaron. We called him A.J.
How can we put A.J. McKinney to death?
I think right now
our most important teachers...
...must be Russell Henderson
and Aaron McKinney.
They have to be our teachers.
How did you learn?
What did we do as a society
to teach you that?
I don't know if many people
will let them be their teacher.
I think it would be wonderful
if the judge said:
"In addition to the sentence...
" must tell your story.
"You must tell your story."
This is a tape recording of the confession
given by Aaron James McKinney... me as detective in charge
of the investigation.
This confession was recorded
two days after the attack.
- So, you guys go to the Fireside, right?
- Yeah.
Where do you go after you leave
the Fireside?
Some Kid wanted a ride home.
What's he look like?
Like a queer.
- He looks like a queer?
- Yeah, like a fag, you know?
Okay, so, how'd you meet him?
The fag? The queer guy?
We were meeting at the bar. He asked us
what we were drinking and doing.
So what happened after you met him?
He wanted a ride home, and...
...I just thought, "The dude's drunK,
let's just taKe him home."
When did you and Russ talK about
jacKing him up?
- We Kinda talKed about it at the bar.
- Tell me what happened next.
Drove him out past Wal Mart.
We got over there
and he starts grabbing my leg and...
...grabbing my genitals and...
...I was like, "I'm not a fucking faggot.
If you touch me again, you're gonna get it."
I don't know what the hell
he was trying to do...
...but I beat him up pretty bad.
I think I killed him.
- What did you hit him with?
- I blacked out.
My fist, my pistol, the butt of the gun.
I wonder what happened to me.
I had a few beers and I don't know.
It's like I could see what was going on.
It was like somebody else was doing it.
What was the first thing he said or did
that made you want to hit him?
He put his hand on my leg and...
...slid his hand
like he was gonna grab my balls.
When that defense team argued that
McKinney did what he did...
...because Matthew made a pass at him...
...I just wanted to vomit...
...because that's like saying it's okay.
It was disgusting
and we were all just disgusted.
It was disgusting
and we were all just disgusted.
It was just rude,
and that was less than integrous behavior.
We were all just disgusted
by that quality of defense.
It's like the Twinkie defense, when the guy
killed Harvey Milk and Moscone.
It's the same thing.
As much as a part of me didn't want
the defense saying that... was a gay bashing or gay panic...
...a part of me was really grateful.
Because I was really afraid that
in this trial they were gonna try...
...and say that it was a robbery,
or it was about drugs.
So when they used gay panic
as the defense...
...I thought, "This is good...
"...because if nothing else,
the truth is gonna come out.
"The truth is gonna be told."
About how many times
did you hit him in the trucK...
...before you guys stopped
where you left him?
I'd say I hit him two or three times.
Probably three times with my fists
and six times with the pistol.
Did he ask you to stop?
Yeah, he was getting
the shit kicked out of him.
What did he say?
After he asked me to stop,
most all he was doing was screaming.
Was Matthew conscious
while Russell was tying him to the fence?
I told him, "Turn around and don't look
at my license plate number"...
...because I was scared
he would tell the police.
And then I asked him
what my license plate said.
He read it and that's why I hit him
a few more times.
Just to be sure?
My secret hope was that they were
from somewhere else...
...that then you can create this distance.
We don't grow children like that here.
It's pretty clear we do grow children
like that here.
So obviously you don't like gay people?
- No, I don't.
- Would you say you hate them?
No, I really don't hate them,
but when they start...
...coming on to me,
I get pretty aggravated.
So you've been approached
by gay people before?
No, not really.
Did he threaten you?
- This gay dude?
- Yeah.
Can you answer me one thing?
Why did you guys take his shoes?
I don't know.
I'm never gonna get to see my son again?
I don't know.
He's gonna die for sure?
There is no doubt that
Mr. Shepard is going to die.
So what are they gonna give me, 25 to life?
Or the death penalty
and just get it over with?
That's not our job.
That's the job of the judge and the jury.
The strange thing is, 20 minutes
before Matthew was brought in...
...Aaron McKinney, one of the perpetrators,
was brought in by his girlfriend.
- Wait. McKinney was here?
- Yeah.
I guess he went back into town later
that same night and got in a fight.
And so there's Aaron
on one bed in my ER...
...and just a few beds down is Matthew.
Then two days later,
I found out the connection.
Has the jury reached a verdict?
We have, Your Honor.
I was very...
They were two kids.
They were both my patients,
but they were two kids.
I took care of both of them,
took care of both their bodies...
...and I felt a great deal of compassion
for both of them.
We, the jury...
...impaneled and sworn to try
the above-entitled cause...
...after having well
and truly tried the matter...
...unanimously find as follows:
As to the charge of kidnapping...
...we find the defendant,
Aaron James McKinney...
As to the charge of felony murder...
...we find the defendant,
Aaron James McKinney...
The jury returns to the courthouse today
to start considering the punishment...
...a phase of the trial that will probably last
until next weeK.
I am worKing with McKinney,
counseling him.
I don't think he can conceptualize...
...the gravity of something
like capital punishment...
...but I'm going to be praying
like the dickens tonight...
...that we don't have to go through
this next phase.
I don't know if you believe in prayer,
but would you do this for me?
Would you just say, from time to time:
"Lord, I lift him up to you."
Just do that for me.
Of course, Father.
The sentencing phase of McKinney's
trial was to begin momentarily.
However, now we're hearing
that Judy and Dennis Shepard...
...have been approached by the defense
team, who have pled for their client's life.
We understand Mr. Shepard
may approach the court this morning.
"My son Matthew...
"...did not look like a winner.
"He was rather uncoordinated...
"...and wore braces from the age of 13
until the day he died.
"However, in his all-too-brief life,
he proved that he was a winner.
"On October 6, 1((8...
" son tried to show the world
that he could win again.
"On October 12, 1((8...
" first-born son and my hero lost.
"On October 12, 1((8...
" first-born son and my hero died...
"...50 days before his 22nd birthday.
"I keep wondering the same thing that
I did when I first saw him in the hospital.
"What would he have become?
"How could he have changed
his piece of the world to make it better?
"Matt officially died in a hospital
in Fort Collins, Colorado.
"He actually died on the outskirts
of laramie...
"...tied to a fence.
"You, Mr. McKinney,
with your friend Mr. Henderson...
"...left him there by himself...
"...but he was not alone.
"There were his lifelong friends with him...
"...friends that he had grown up with.
"You're probably wondering
who these friends were.
"First, he had the beautiful night sky
and the same stars and moon...
"...we used to see through a telescope.
"Then he had the daylight
and the sun to shine on him.
"And through it all...
"...he was breathing in the scent
of the pine trees from the Snowy Range.
"He heard the wind...
"...the ever-present Wyoming wind,
for the last time.
"He had one more friend with him.
"He had God.
"And I feel better knowing he wasn't alone.
"Matt's beating, hospitalization, and
funeral put worldwide attention on hate.
"Good is coming out of evil.
"People have said, 'Enough is enough.'
"I miss my son...
"...but I am proud to be able to say
that he was my son.
"Judy has been quoted
as being against the death penalty.
"It has been stated that Matt was
against the death penalty.
"Both of these statements are wrong.
"I, too, believe in the death penalty.
"I would like nothing better
than to see you die, Mr. McKinney.
"However, this is the time
to begin the healing process...
" show mercy to someone
who refused to show any mercy.
"Mr. McKinney...
"...I am going to grant you life...
" hard as it is to do so,
because of Matthew.
"Every time you celebrate Christmas...
"...a birthday, the Fourth of July,
remember that Matt isn't.
"Every time you wake up
in your prison cell...
"...remember you had the opportunity...
"...and the ability
to stop your actions that night.
"You robbed me of
something very precious...
"...and I will never forgive you for that.
"Mr. McKinney...
"...I give you life...
" the memory of someone
who no longer lives.
"May you have a long life...
"...and may you thank Matthew
every day for it."
Thank you very much.
Mr. McKinney, you will be remanded... the custody of the Albany County
Sheriff's Department...
...pending transportation
to the state penitentiary.
Ladies and gentlemen,
that concludes this matter.
I hope, when you think of this town,
you can see something besides a crime...
...and understand why we love it so much.
I'm just really glad that it's over.
You know, I really am.
Testifying in this trial has been one of
the hardest things I've had to do in my life.
I mean, don't get me wrong.
I love the stage, I'm a natural for it...
...but the actual testifying is really,
really difficult.
The lawyers are asking you questions... you have questions
that are coming at you in this avenue...
...but then you have to funnel them over
to the jury.
So you funnel them over there,
and what you end up with is...
Well, basically,
you have a funneling system.
After taking the ATZ for six months,
I was able to get a DNA test.
And it was...
...about a week later,
I found out that I was...
...negative for good.
- Wow. Thank God.
- That's great.
I tell you, we were all on our knees
saying Hail Marys.
Yeah, you're just so elated.
We were really happy.
So what's the first thing she does?
I stuck my tongue right
in my husband's mouth.
- What about your daughters?
- The girls, they just bawled.
They were just so happy.
- And the force...
- Boy.
Yeah, we went out and got shit-faced.
I just kissed everybody
who came through that door.
- They don't need to know that.
- You know what?
If it was a male or a female,
I kissed them on the lips.
What part of what I just said
did you not understand?
Mom, I have already kissed them.
It's not clear to me,
having Known Matthew...
...what story he would want
told about this.
We won't fully understand
what happened here...
...until time has had a chance
to filter that out for us.
What happened here,
the culture that caused this...
...the complex set of events
leading up to it... would have been like
us trying to stop a tank.
Change is not an easy thing,
and I don't think people were up to it.
They got what they wanted.
Those two boys got what they deserve,
and we look good now.
It's been over a year since
Matthew Shepard died...
...and they haven't passed shit in Wyoming.
They haven't passed it at a state level...
...any town, anybody, anywhere...
...has passed any kind of laws.
Anti-discrimination laws
or hate crime legislation...
...nobody has passed anything anywhere.
What's come out of it?
What's come out of it
that's concrete and lasting?
"The dead will be commemorated
and will struggle on with the living...
"...and we are not going away.
"We won't die secret deaths anymore.
"The world only spins forward.
"We will be citizens.
"The time has come.
"'Bye, now."
Have you ever gone out to the fence?
I drove up to the site in my limousine...
...and I remembered something to myself
the night he and I drove around together.
He said, "laramie sparkles, doesn't it?"
And where he was in that spot up there...
...if you sit exactly in that spot up there,
laramie sparkles from there.
With the low-lying clouds...'s the blue lights bouncing off
the clouds from the airport...
...and it goes...
...over the whole city.
I mean... blows you away.
Matt was right there in that spot,
and I can just picture... his eyes...
I can picture what he was seeing.
The last thing that he saw on this earth...
...was the sparKling lights
of Laramie, Wyoming.