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Aaron Webster
(June 1959 - November 17, 2001) Canada

Aaron Webster

Gay bashing victim

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The nude, battered body of Aaron Webster was found near a path in a gay cruising area of Bridle Path in Vancouver's Stanley park. Tim Chisholm, Aaron's best friend, tragicly, found him lying near death at the side of road and Aaron died in Chisholm's arms.

Police said they are treating the killing as a hate-crime, saying that Webster was hit repeatedly in the head and upper body with what police say was a pool cue or baseball bat and golf clubs by at least three to four men. Four witnesses have come forward, but, only two actually saw the killers.

The crime went unsolved for nearly a year. The killing galvanized the city's large gay community. Vancouver's police chief, the investigators, and provincial and local politicians attended his funeral. Then after a local Crimestoppers broadcast police got a tip and arrested the teen. Four additional suspects were charged several weeks later.

Police have arrested a 19-year-old man at a home in Burnaby in connection with the murder of Aaron Webster in Stanley Park in November 2001. Vancouver Police says the man can't be named under the Young Offenders Act because he was 17 at the time of the murder.

Despite pleas from the community the prosecutor did not ask for the additional hate crime sentence. The crown attorney said it would be too difficult to prove that the killing was hate motivated and not a robbery.

Judge Valmond Romilly, a Vancouver judge, disagreed. The teen in his confession said he and his friends had been drinking and went looking to beat up gay men who cruised the sprawling downtown park. In his delivering sentence Romilly called the attack savage and cowardly and compared the teens to a "thug brigade" out of Nazi Germany.

Judge Romilly ruled that the 2001 killing of a gay man was hate crime even though the prosecutor had decided not to seek the additional charge. He sentenced the 19 year old accused to three years in prison for his involvement in the killing of Aaron Webster. The sentence, which includes one year for the hate crime enhancement, is the maximum Canadian law permits for a young offender.

In 2003, three more people have been charged with a killing that shocked Vancouver's gay and lesbian community nearly two years ago. Ryan Kran and Danny Rao were arrested and charged with manslaughter. Another juvenile has also been charged.

In 2004, Judge Conni Bagnall ruled after just three days of testimony that the Crown had presented enough evidence against Danny Rao, 22, and Ryan Cran, 21, to warrant a trial. Rao and Cran have both been charged with manslaughter in connection with Webster's killing.

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