BY BTL STAFF
Scott Amedure was murdered at the age of 32 on March 9, 1995 because he was gay. His killer, Jonathan Schmitz, 47, was released from the Parnall Correctional Facility in Jackson on Aug. 22.
During a March hearing, he was granted parole after serving 22 years. Schmitz was sentenced to 25 to 50 years for second-degree murder in 1996.
James Lawson of Detroit knew both men and testified in court. He said he received a call from the state on Aug. 18 to let him know about the release, which Lawson said he is “not happy about, one bit. The parole board should never have let this man out.”
Lawson said he was friends with the founder of the Triangle Foundation (now Equality Michigan), Jeffrey Montgomery, who helped destroy the myth of the “gay panic” defense used during this case and changed the way anti-LGBT hate crimes were addressed by activists, in courtrooms, and by law enforcement.
Schmitz, who said he wasn’t gay, was 24 when he fatally shot Amedure in his Lake Orion home three days after they appeared together on “The Jenny Jones Show” in Chicago. Amedure revealed he was romantically interested in Schmitz on an episode of the nationally syndicated program’s taping on the topic of “secret crushes.” The episode never aired, but clips were broadcast during news reports.
Schmitz turned himself in to police, stating he killed Amedure because he was embarrassed on television. He was initially convicted in 1996 and served about two years before he was tried and convicted again in 1999, after the first verdict was overturned on appeal.
Attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who represented the Amedure family, told the Detroit Free Press on Aug. 17 that, “He deserved imprisonment but so did everybody else involved in that ‘Jenny Jones Show.’ He was the perpetrator, but he was also a victim of them and they got off scott free.”
No attorney for Schmitz is identified on the Michigan DOC website.
Frank Amedure, Jr., Scott’s older brother, is somewhat troubled by the parole board’s decision – unsure that Schmitz “learned what he should have” from being imprisoned, he told The Oakland Press on Aug. 16.
“I wanted assurance that the (parole board’s) decision was not based on just good behavior in prison. I’d like to know that he learned something, that he’s a changed man, is no longer homophobic and has gotten psychological care,” said Amedure. “I’d also like to know how he feels about Scott now, after all these years – and how he feels about what he did.”
The exact place and time of Schmitz’s release was not made public.