Life term for gay student's killer

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THE FIRST of two men to be tried for the killing of Matthew Shepard, the gay college student beaten and left for dead on a fence-post, pleaded guilty yesterday and was handed two consecutive life sentences by a court in Wyoming.

Russell Henderson, 21, a roofer, pleaded guilty to felony murder and kidnapping by luring Mr Shepard out of a bar in Laramie last October, abducting him and tying him up in the cold. Mr Shepard, 21, an engineering student at the University of Wyoming, was found pistol-whipped 18 hours later and died in hospital.

Henderson blamed his friend Aaron McKinney, 21, who is due to be tried in August, for the worst of the violence. He also tried to apologise but the judge Judge Jeffrey A. Donnell said: "This court does not believe you feel any remorse."

By his plea, Henderson avoided the death penalty.