Conviction Of Oregon Man In Prison For Murdering Gay Cousin Is Overturned Because Of Police Error

An appeals court ruled police in Multnomah County interrogated Brandon Hickman after he asked for a lawyer.

A court of appeals has reversed the conviction of an Oregon man convicted on manslaughter in the fatal shooting of his gay cousin in 2013.

Multnomah County Sheriff's Office

A three-judge panel ruled that Multnomah County police continued to interrogate Brandon Hickman (above) even after he requested an attorney, a violation of his rights.

“I really don’t wanna say too much… I would rather have my lawyer with me,” he told Detectives Tim Snider and Brandon Crate in a recorded interview. The men continued to question Hickman, though, and he made incriminating statements that were later used at trial.

Police tracked Hickman down in Las Vegas a month after he reportedly shot his cousin, 37-year-old Makeitho “Tito” De Monz Herring, in a Portland parking lot in September 2013. At trial, prosecutors said they believed Hickman, now 33, was homophobic and killed his cousin because Herring (below) threatened to reveal a secret sexual relationship between the two men just moments before he was shot.

Makeitho "Tito" De Monz Herring

“[He] started talking about Mr. Hickman’s anatomical details and, obviously, Mr. Hickman was becoming angry at this,” said prosecutor Steve O’Hagan. “The more angry Mr. Hickman came, the more Mr. Herring was enjoying [it].”

That’s when Hickman allegedly pulled out a 9 mm handgun, placed it below Herring’s ear, and pulled the trigger. He was convicted of first-degree manslaughter, and is four years into a 10-year prison sentence.

While this week’s decision overturns Hickman’s September 2015 conviction, it doesn’t prevent the district attorney’s office from retrying the case.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.