October 12, 1998
Fort Collins, Colorado
Matthew Shepard succumbs to the beating and torture he endured 6 days before

Shepard’s murderers, allegedly intent on robbing him, approached him, pretending to be gay to earn his trust, and offered him a ride home, but instead drove to an abandoned field, tied him to a fence, pistol whipped him which fractured his skull, tortured him, and left him to die. A passerby noticed his body some 18 hours later, assuming at first he was a scarecrow. Police on the scene reported his face was completely covered with blood except for streaks where his tears had washed the blood away.

Shepard lingered in a coma for 6 days before he died from severe brain trauma.

During trial, the defense attempting a “gay panic” offense, alleging the killers had only intended to rob Shepard who then hit on one or both of the men who beat and murdered him in response. The prosecution sought a hate crime punishment, alleging the two men had specifically sought Shepard due to his sexual orientation. The murderers were convicted of felony murder and given two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.

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