SHEPARD TRIAL BEGINS

A prosecutor asked 71 prospective jurors Wednesday to set aside the emotions of pity and rage if they are chosen for the trial in the beating death of gay college student Matthew Shepard. Prosecutor Cal Rerucha also told the panel to remember that Shepard was “a victim that was different, a victim that was not the same as you and I.” Rerucha’s statements came as the trial of Russell Henderson began amid little fanfare in Albany County District Court in Wyoming. Henderson, 21, showed little emotion and occasionally looked at the pool of possible jurors seated in the courtroom’s spectator section. Shepard’s mother, Judy, was seated next to a victims’ advocate in a back row of the section.

  • Henderson and his co-defendant, Aaron McKinney, 21, who is to be tried later, both face the death penalty if convicted in a case that has become a central focus for gay rights activists and others seeking stronger anti-bias crime legislation. Opening statements are scheduled for April 6.
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