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Surprise Guilty Plea In Gay Murder Case -365gay.com

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(Bay Minette, Alabama) One of three people charged in the capital murder of a gay man in 2004 suddenly entered a guilty plea on Monday - a week before his trial was to begin.

Despite the guilty plea by Christopher Gaines, 22, Alabama law requires that a jury to hear evidence in the case to determine whether a capital murder charge is warranted.

The jury's decision will mean either the death penalty or life in prison for Gaines.

He, along with Nichole Kelsay, 21, and Robert Holly Lofton Porter, 21 were charged with killing Scotty Joe Weaver in part because he was gay.

All three defendants opted for separate trials. Neither the prosecution nor the defense attorneys would speculate on Monday if Gaines will testify at the trials of the other two.

Assistant Baldwin County District Attorney Jim Vollmer had said that had wanted to try Gaines first.

Weaver was attacked and murdered in his trailer home in July 2004. He was 18 years old.

His body was then carted to a quiet dirt road where his killers set it on fire and then casually drove off, after robbing him of between $65 and $80.

A man driving an all-terrain vehicle discovered Weaver's severely burned and decomposed body

Two of the accused, Gaines and Kelsay were Weaver's roommates. Porter is described as a friend of the pair who spent a considerable amount of time at Weaver's home.

Police said all three suspects were out of work, and Weaver was paying the bills at their home.

Gaines and Kelsay apparently had a romantic relationship with each other, investigators said, adding that it appeared the trio plotted Weaver's death several days before the killing.

Hallie Dixon, one of the defense attorneys has called for a change of venue, saying that media coverage has tainted a potential jury pool in Baldwin County.

The murder drew interest from gay rights groups across the country, and hundreds of mourners attended a vigil for Weaver in Mobile after the killing. An anti-gay group picketed outside the Crossroads Church of God, where Weaver's funeral was held.

?365Gay.com 2007

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BAY MINETTE, Ala. (AP) - A gay teenager who was murdered in part over his sexuality pleaded with his roommate to stop killing him, a prosecutor told jurors in the capital murder case.

As Christopher Gaines attacked, Scotty Joe Weaver struggled and begged for his life, Baldwin County District Attorney Judy Newcomb told the court Monday.

Gaines wrapped a rope around Weaver's neck and squeezed, Newcomb told jurors. Robert Porter, a friend of Gaines, held Weaver's feet.

"Please Chris, stop. Please Chris, stop," Newcomb quoted Weaver as saying. "But he just couldn't make it."

Newcomb described in gruesome detail how Gaines, girlfriend Nichole Bryars Kelsay, and Porter plotted Weaver's death on July 18, 2004, and then tried to cover it up. Porter and Gaines took the 18-year-old's body to a desolate wooded area and set it afire, Newcomb said.

Gaines, 22, pleaded guilty to capital murder and will likely receive a sentence of life without parole instead of a possible death sentence. Despite the plea, state law requires jurors in capital cases to still hear evidence about the crime. The judge will make the final decision on the sentence.

Porter and Kelsay pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for trial later this year.

Newcomb said Weaver and Porter never got along because Porter had problems with Weaver's homosexuality. Porter once called Weaver a derogatory name, Newcomb said.

After the killing, Gaines and Porter placed Weaver's body into the trunk of Gaines' car, then stopped at a service station and filled a 3-liter bottle with gasoline.

On an isolated trail, Gaines helped place Weaver's body on his back atop a blanket, evidence showed. The two alleged urinated on the body and set it afire.

Gaines showed no emotion as the prosecutor described the slaying.

"The actions of Christopher Gaines that night are indefensible," said his lawyer, J. Clark Stankoski. "He has accepted that."

For days, Gaines, Porter and Kelsay went about their normal routines before Weaver's body was discovered, Newcomb told jurors. Gaines drove his car around with Weaver's ID and bank card in the glove compartment.

"He didn't really have any bad feelings about him, but he didn't feel bad about killing him," Newcomb said of Gaines.


Information from: Press-Register, http://www.al.com/mobileregister

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