Richard R. Laird, the twice-convicted killer of gay artist Anthony Milano, last month continued his quest for another trial.
Thirty years ago, Laird and accomplice Frank R. Chester kidnapped Milano to a wooded area in Tullytown and slashed his throat so severely that Milano’s head was nearly severed.
The case became a cause célèbre in the local LGBT community because both defendants voiced homophobic language inside a Bucks County tavern prior to kidnapping Milano and killing him.
A Bucks County jury sentenced Laird and Chester to death in 1988, but both men eventually were granted new trials due to faulty jury instructions.
Rather than retry Chester, Bucks County authorities transferred him from death row to the general prison population. In return, Chester, 49, agreed to remain incarcerated for the rest of his life. He’s currently housed at a state prison in LaBelle.
However, no such deal was offered to Laird, and after a second trial in 2007, he was resentenced to death.
In a Jan. 26 filing with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Laird, 54, cited alleged sexual abuse he experienced from his father as a young boy.
The filing contends that neither the 1988 jury nor the 2007 jury were informed about the extent of the abuse Laird allegedly suffered.
Moreover, the abuse caused Laird to become very homophobic, according to the filing.
The filing includes a 19-page report by Dr. David Lisak, a nationally recognized forensic consultant. Lisak’s report states that Laird fits the classic profile of a sexual-abuse survivor. "[Laird] experiences physical flashbacks to the abuse, including gag impulses, sharp rectal pain, and other tactile memories,” Lisak’s report states.
Lisak’s report also emphasizes the pervasive nature of the alleged sexual abuse.
“Every time [my father] came home drunk, I knew I would either have to suck his dick or get beaten,” Laird told Lisak.
Laird had been reluctant to discuss his childhood abuse, according to the report.
“I put [the abuse] in a dark corner and shut the door,” Laird told Lisak.
Laird grew up feeling abnormal and unable to adjust, according to Lisak’s report.
“As a little kid, you try to fit in, but you know that you aren’t normal, that it wasn’t right, that you weren’t right,” Laird told Lisak.
The alleged abuse caused Laird to adopt a hyper-masculine persona to compensate for his feelings of helplessness and inferiority, according to Lisak’s report.
“As I got older, I started to feel I could be the baddest motherfucker,” Laird told Lisak.
Additionally, Laird cannot stand to be touched by another man, according to Lisak’s report.
“I can’t stand it if a man touches me in any way,” Laird told Lisak, adding that he always requested a female barber to cut his hair.
Lisak’s report concludes by stating: “It is possible that in an extremely intoxicated state [when Milano was killed], Richard may have acted on the long, pent-up rage he was capable of feeling towards any male whom he perceived as wanting to touch him against his will.”
Jill M. Graziano, a Bucks County deputy district attorney handling the case, said the office will continue to oppose a new trial for Laird.
“We’re going to continue to oppose any request for a new trial or a new penalty hearing,” Graziano told PGN. “We believe that Mr. Laird was properly convicted and sentenced to death. His death sentence should remain in place.”
Cristi A. Charpentier, an attorney for Laird, declined to comment.