Last week the body of Marco McMillian, a mayoral candidate in a small Mississippi town, was found beaten and burned. Police almost immediately announced that they had a 22 year-old suspect in custody. Today we get a disturbing update via press release:
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) has learned that a “gay panic” defense might be used by the suspect in the homicide of Mississippi Mayoral Candidate, Marco McMillian. McMillian was found dead on Wednesday, February 27th near the bank of the Mississippi River just west of Clarksdale, Mississippi, the town where he had been a mayoral hopeful. Lawrence Reed was arrested for the homicide, and it is being reported that the two men may have had an intimate relationship during the approximately two weeks that they knew one another. It is also being reported that Reed, who identifies as straight, may have “snapped” as a result of sexual advances on the part of McMillian. Police have ruled out a hate crime in this case so far, something that some of McMillian’s friends and family members want reconsidered due to the brutal nature of the homicide.
The NCAVP notes that Mississippi does not have a state hate crimes law, meaning that federal charges would be required. McMillian was thought to have been the first openly gay political candidate in the history of Mississippi.