CHEYENNE, Wyo. A federal judge has refused to grant a review of the case of Russell Henderson, one of two men convicted in the 1998 murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard.
U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer last week rejected Henderson’s motion for a writ of habeas corpus. Henderson’s attorney, Tim Newcomb, argued that Henderson was never told of his right to appeal, thus effectively denying Henderson his right to appellate counsel.
A state district court and the Wyoming Supreme Court previously rejected Henderson’s motion.
In April 1999, Henderson pleaded guilty to his role in the robbery and murder of Shepard. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences, but prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty be-cause of the plea deal.
Henderson and Aaron McKinney beat Shepard and tied him to a fence outside Laramie in October 1998. Shepard was alive when he was found 16 hours after the beating, but died later from his injuries. The murder ignited a nationwide debate over whether more laws were needed to discourage hate crimes.
McKinney is also serving two life terms.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.