News Briefing April 24-30, 2015

News Briefing April 24-30, 2015

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Killer of gay man won’t appeal to Supreme Court

Frank R. Chester, who murdered Anthony V. Milano almost 30 years ago, won’t appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court for a new trial.

In December 1987, Chester and Richard R. Laird escorted Milano out of a Bucks County tavern and kidnapped him to a nearby wooded area.

Upon their arrival, Chester kicked and pushed Milano. Then Laird hacked out Milano’s throat with a box cutter, according to court records.

Milano was gay, and prosecutors called it an antigay hate crime, though there were no hate-crime protections in place for the LGBT community.

In 1988, Chester and Laird were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.

But Chester’s first-degree murder conviction was voided in 2011 due to improper jury instructions by the trial judge.

Chester requested that his remaining convictions be voided — including second-degree murder and kidnapping — on his claim that his trial attorney had a conflict of interest.

Chester’s trial attorney, Thomas F. Edwards Jr., denies having had a conflict of interest in the case.

The conflict-of-interest claim stems from a pending DUI charge against Edwards in Bucks County at the time of Chester’s 1988 trial.

In January, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Chester’s conflict-of-interest claim.

Last week, attorneys for Chester said they won’t appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I’m pleased that this chapter of the Anthony Milano case is closed,” said Stephen B. Harris, chief of appeals for Bucks County. “We have a year to retry Mr. Chester for first-degree murder. We’re currently considering all of our options in that regard.”

Chester, 46, remains on death row at Graterford State Prison.

City seeks exclusion of Morris evidence

City attorneys want a judge to exclude any evidence about the Nizah Morris incident from the upcoming workplace-bias trial of N. Melville Jones, an openly gay police officer.

Jones filed suit against the city in 2013, seeking in excess of $50,000 in damages.

The officer claims that a supervisor outed him throughout the police department, triggering pervasive harassment and discrimination against him.

Morris was a trans woman found with a fatal head injury in 2002, shortly after a Center City “courtesy ride” from Philadelphia police.

In a recent motion, the city argued that the police department’s handling of the Morris incident is irrelevant to Jones’ lawsuit.

“[T]here is no plausible connection between the death of a transgender civilian in December 2002 and alleged discrimination against a gay police officer in 2009 (or any date thereafter),” the city stated in its motion.

At press time, the motion was pending before Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Idee C. Fox.

A non-jury trial is scheduled to begin 10 a.m. April 28 in Courtroom 243 of City Hall.

— Timothy Cwiek

Black LGBT film festival still accepting submissions

The Black Alphabet Film Festival is still accepting submissions for its 2015 event.

The festival will include short films, feature films, panels, workshops and parties that highlight and celebrate the diversity of the black LGBT community.

While the regular deadline was April 15, you can still submit your film until May1. Acceptance notifications will be sent on June 1.

BAFF is Chicago’s first black LGBT film festival and is dedicated to encouraging storytelling, cultivating new dialogues and educating communities about the cultural and social contributions that black LGBTs have made upon the world.

For submission details and more information, visit. www.blackalphabet.org

Bucks HRC hosts forum on discrimination

The Bucks County Human Relations Council will host an educational event designed to address fair housing, hate crimes and police-community relations.

The free community education event will take place 7-8 p.m. May 5 in the Yardley-Lower Makefield Public Library, 1080 Edgewood Road in Yardley. The forum will include a presentation and Q&A with human-relations and anti-discrimination experts.

Carl Summerson, permanent hearing officer of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, and Tameka Hatcher, the commission’s housing-program analyst, will discuss unlawful discrimination, identifying challenges and strategies for improving fair housing, police-community relations and hate-crime activity.

The BCHRC also invites those interested in becoming involved in promoting positive community relationships and working to dismantle discrimination, prejudice and bigotry to apply for open councilmember positions.

The BCHRC meets 7 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of the month at the Northampton Township Public Library, 25 Upper Holland Road in Richboro.

More information on the forum and the councilmember application can be found at www.bchumanrelations.org, facebook.com/BCHRCouncil or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Renowned pastor hosts conference

The Rev. Frank Schaefer, the Methodist pastor who was defrocked for officiating his son’s same-sex wedding in 2007 but later reinstated, will host a one-day conference at a local church.

“Choosing Love: A Parent’s Story” will take place 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. May 2 at Gloria Dei Church, 570 Welsh Road in Huntingdon Valley. Tickets are $30 for adults, $15 for students and include a boxed lunch. Proceeds benefit The Attic Youth Center.

In addition to sharing his compelling personal story, Schaefer will cover topics including love, family, inclusivity, the Bible and homosexuality and the path to marriage in Pennsylvania.

Schaefer’s book, “Defrocked: How a Father’s Act of Love Shook the United Methodist Church,” will be available for sale and signing.

To register for the event, visit www.tinyurl.com/chooselovemay2. For more information, contact Patty Burger, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Self-defense class benefits officer’s family

Want to learn self-defense? The experts from Israeli Krav Maga in Cherry Hill will teach you the basics at a fundraiser benefiting the family of fallen Philadelphia police officer Robert Wilson III.

The complimentary nightclub safety session will be held 5:30-7:30 p.m. April 28 at ICandy, 254 S. 12th St. The self-defense class is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted for Officer Wilson’s family.

The 30-year-old officer. an eight-year veteran of the force, was shot to death March 5 during an attempted robbery of a GameStop store at 22nd and Lehigh streets.

PGMC hosts cabaret fundraiser

Join the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus for a drag- and dance-filled cabaret fundraiser 7-10 p.m. May 2 at the William Way LGBT Community Center Ballroom, 1315 Spruce St. Tickets are $40 in advance, $50 at the door. Admission includes a buffet dinner and open bar.

The event, hosted by the fabulous Stella D’Oro, includes individual cabaret performances from members of PGMC, several of whom will be in drag as well as guest performances by the Bearded Ladies Cabaret from the Wilma Theater.

Proceeds will also go to supply musical instruments for Philadelphia public-school students.

To purchase tickets and for more information, visit www.pgmc.org/cabaret.html

— Ryan Kasley


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