An Australian man twice sentenced with murder, after beating and stabbing a gay man to death, has won the right to appeal his conviction over concerns that a judge didn’t allow him to pursue a “gay panic” defense.
Michael Joseph Lindsay, 32, had originally been found guilty in the death of Andrew Negre, 37, in April 2011. At the time, his lawyers argued that unwanted sexual advances from Negre had caused their client to lose control and attack him. The Supreme Court quashed this defense, eventually sentencing Lindsay to 23 years in jail.
However, in May 2015, the convicted was granted a retrial from the High Court after lawmakers there ruled that it was permissible for jurisdictions in South Australia, where both Lindsay and Negre lived, to employ a “gay panic” defense in which a nonviolent homosexual advance could be pursued to “establish provocation.”
Lindsay’s legal team attempted to undertake this defense in his retrial this past March, but failed. He was once again found guilty of murder.
Despite being convicted twice for the same crime, Lindsay received another opportunity to prove his innocence this past Friday when Justice David Lovell, of the Court of Criminal Appeal, gave him permission to challenge any “concerns” he might have had about his second trial.
Lovell suggested that there were grounds for an appeal because Justice Anne Bampton, who presided over the proceedings, “excluded the possibility that Mr. Lindsay had killed Mr. Neagre as a consequence of a sudden and temporary loss of self-control brought about by Mr. Neagre’s conduct.”
Though Bampton did mention provocation laws in a speech to the jury, Lovell argued that she presented a clear bias against the validity of the laws, which, he said, misdirected the jurors.
In her introduction of the defense to the jury, she said, “There is no doubt that in former times, when acts of homosexuality constituted serious crime and men were accustomed to resort to weapons and violence to defend their honor, a killing under the provocation present here would have been seen as giving rise to a verdict of manslaughter rather than murder. However, times have very much changed.”
As of this writing, it’s unclear whether or not Lindsay and his team will pursue an appeals process. If they do so and succeed, the “gay panic” defense could reduce his charge from murder to manslaughter.
h/t: The Advertiser