March 14, 2007
Ryan Skipper (25) is murdered by William Brown Jr (20) and Joseph Bearden (pictured, 21) due to alleged unwanted sexual advances (also called the “gay panic defense”)
How Skipper met his murderers is still questioned, though two of Skipper’s friends testified they had seen Brown with Skipper before, one claiming to have seen him at Skipper’s home and the other that Brown had previously been a tenant near Skipper’s residence.
The night of March 14, Skipper, Brown, and Bearden left together in Skipper’s car, though 15 minutes later only Bearden and Brown returned. Skipper had been beaten, stabbed 20 times, and his throat slashed before his body was dumped on the side of the road.
Bearden and Brown were found guilty of murder following nearly 2 days of deliberation, both sentenced to life in prison. Bearden was also sentenced to 2 5-year terms and 2 15-year terms to be served concurrently for theft of a motor vehicle, accessory after the fact, tampering with evidence, and dealing in stolen property. Brown was also sentenced to another life term for the armed robbery with a deadly weapon, a 15-year term for arson, and a five-year term for tampering with evidence.