After decades of ‘gay panic defence’ in court, US states slowly begin to ban tactic
by Tom Dart
May 12, 2018
When Jonathan Schmitz walked on to the set of one of America’s most popular daytime TV shows, he knew he was about to meet his secret admirer. What he did not know was that the episode of the Jenny Jones Show in question was called “Same Sex Secret Crushes”.
Schmitz emerged from backstage and saw two people he knew, Donna Riley and Scott Amedure. “Did you think Donna has a crush on you?” grinned Jones. “Well guess what, it’s Scott that has the crush on you!”
The audience roared. Schmitz turned to Amedure. “You lied to me!” he said, giving an embarrassed laugh. He was played a recording of Amedure discussing sexual fantasies moments earlier. “I’m definitely heterosexual,” Schmitz said.
The edition was never aired. Three days after it was taped in 1995, Schmitz found a love note from Amedure on his door, bought a shotgun, drove to Amedure’s house in Michigan and fired twice into his chest, killing him.
A jury found Schmitz guilty not of first-degree murder, requiring premeditation, but of second-degree murder. He was released from prison last year.
Schmitz’s lawyers argued that he was mentally ill and became emotionally unstable after feeling humiliated. For some gay rights advocates the case remains an example of a homophobic legal tactic that persists today, despite efforts to ban it.