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Wyoming shelves hate crime law decades after Shepard’s death

Steven Girt/GirtCommunications

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Lawmakers in Wyoming, where gay college student Matthew Shepard was killed more than 20 years ago, again decided not to adopt a hate crimes law.

Wyoming is one of just three states that haven't enacted hate crimes legislation since Shepard was beaten and left for dead in Laramie in 1998. The killing of the University of Wyoming student inspired those laws in other states and at the federal level.

A measure tabled Thursday by the Wyoming House Judiciary Committee would have allowed prosecutors to consider a criminal's biases against race, sex, gender, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, ethnicity or disabilities when seeking punishment for crimes.

The legislation sponsored by Republican Rep. Pat Sweeney of Casper also would have provided for anti-bias training for law enforcement officers to help them identify and respond to hate crimes.

Most public testimony Thursday was in support of the bill, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. Others said the bill went too far or not far enough to discourage hate crimes.

Arkansas and South Carolina are considering hate crimes legislation this year, though lawmakers removed protections for gay or transgender people from the South Carolina bill Thursday.

Several previous attempts in Wyoming to enact a hate crime law have failed.

Associated Press


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