- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 26, 2002

A homosexual teenager was arrested in Chicago for killing a Catholic woman who tried to persuade him to change his sexual orientation a case that critics argue should be labeled as a hate crime that deserves national attention.
Nicholas Gutierrez, 19, was charged Nov. 16 with first-degree murder and burglary after police said he beat, kicked, stabbed and strangled 51-year-old Mary Stachowicz, then placed her body in a crawl space under the floor in his apartment. Her body was found three days after she was killed.
Prosecutors said they will most likely seek the death penalty.
Critics of the homosexual movement, however, said yesterday the case should be treated as a hate crime against Christians because Mr. Gutierrez killed Mrs. Stachowicz after she shared her religious beliefs with him.
They also blasted the national media for not giving the same amount of coverage to Mrs. Stachowicz's slaying as it did to the murder of homosexual University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard in 1998.
Mr. Shepard, 21, was lured by two men he met at a bar to a remote field where he was tied to a fence and beaten to death. Hundreds of media outlets covered the case, including the trial where Mr. Shepard's attackers were convicted.
However, only local media like the Chicago Tribune and Illinois television stations have covered Mrs. Stachowicz's slaying.
"If a gay man had been murdered for trying to convince someone to be gay, it would be a national news story and be deemed a hate crime," said Peter LaBarbera, a senior policy analyst with the Culture and Family Institute, which is affiliated with the conservative Concerned Women for America.
"But when a gay man murders a woman who tried to convince him to change, the media spike the story," Mr. LaBarbera said.
"There seems to be a politically correct hierarchy of victims, and at the top of the list are gay victims. If Matthew Shepard's murder deserved national media attention, then why not Mary Stachowicz's?"
Officials with the conservative Family Research Council agreed. "Mrs. Stachowicz was witnessing to her religious faith and was murdered for it," said Peter Sprigg, senior director of culture studies for the FRC. "If that's not a hate crime, then I don't know what is."
Police officials said Mr. Gutierrez has not been charged with a hate crime because the State's Attorney's Office most likely did not find enough evidence to file such a charge against him.
"It's the state's attorney's call on whether to charge someone with a hate crime," said Officer JoAnn Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Police Department. "If they don't have enough evidence to support the charge, they won't touch it."
The State's Attorney's Office declined to discuss the case or the state's hate-crime laws yesterday.
Hate crimes are criminal actions intended to harm or intimidate people because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or other minority group status.
Mr. Shepard's killers were convicted in Wyoming, which did not have a hate-crime statute. In fact, prosecutors never characterized Mr. Shepard's murder as a hate crime; they portrayed the killing as a robbery-gone-bad.
Homosexual-rights groups condemned Mrs. Stachowicz's slaying but stopped short of calling it a hate crime.
"We condemn this murder, like we do all murders," said Laura Montgomery Rutt, spokeswoman for Soulforce, a national homosexual activist group. "A hate crime needs to have an intent to intimidate a whole class of people. If in this case, it was directed at this person and intended to intimidate Christians, that would be a hate crime in my mind."
Police said Mr. Gutierrez confessed that he became enraged after Mrs. Stachowicz started asking him questions about his sexual orientation, shortly after she came back from attending Mass on Nov. 13. Mr. Gutierrez lived in an apartment above a funeral home where Mrs. Stachowicz worked for about a year.
Mr. Gutierrez told police the argument with Mrs. Stachowicz reminded him of debates he had with his mother, and he started having flashbacks to those quarrels. Mrs. Stachowicz's family said the married mother of four was probably trying to help Mr. Gutierrez.
"Those of us who knew her immediately hear her soft voice saying something like, 'God wouldn't approve of the way you're living your life,'" neighbor Mary Coleman told the Chicago Tribune. "That's how Mary did things."


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