An evidentiary hearing in the Jason Shephard murder case is scheduled to be held later this month at the Delaware County Courthouse.
In 2008, William F. Smithson was convicted of murdering Shephard inside Smithson’s Thornbury home.
Smithson was sentenced to life in prison without parole, but he maintains his innocence and claims he was denied the opportunity to confront key witnesses during his trial.
He also contends police failed to properly investigate F. Bruce Covington, who was also inside Smithson’s home at the time of Shephard’s death.
Additionally, Smithson says that his trial attorney, G. Guy Smith, served ineffectively during his murder trial.
Last year, Delaware County Common Pleas Judge Barry C. Dozor said an evidentiary hearing is needed before he decides whether Smithson should get a new trial.
The two-day hearing is scheduled to begin 9:30 a.m. Sept. 10 at the Delaware County Courthouse, 201 W. Front St. in Media.
According to the prosecution, Smithson lured Shephard into his home, slipped him the “date-rape” drug gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), then strangled him to death in the course of trying to rape him.
But Smithson contends that Shephard willingly came to his home on Sept. 18, 2006, partly for the purpose of having sex — which the two men had also engaged in the day before, according to Smithson.
Smithson, 48, remains incarcerated at a state prison in Huntingdon.
Scout troop still subsidized
The city continues to subsidize a local Boy Scouts of America troop that occupies a city-owned building in Roxborough.
BSA Troop 474 occupies the “Scout House,” at 726 E. Wigard St. in Fairmount Park near Wissahickon Creek.
Since 1987, the troop has occupied the facility while paying nominal rent of $1 annually to the city.
Activists have urged Mayor Nutter’s administration to evict the troop if it won’t sign a lease with LGBT-inclusive antibias provisions.
But administration officials haven’t initiated eviction proceedings.
Mark McDonald, a spokesperson for Nutter, had no comment.
“City officials are guilty of malfeasance if the situation is not immediately corrected,” said Margaret A. Downey, president of the Freethought Society.
Palma M. Rasmussen, a disability-rights advocate, agreed with Downey.
“The citizens of Philadelphia deserve a local government that enforces its laws and stands up for all of its citizens,” Rasmussen said.
A representative of Troop 474 couldn’t be reached for comment.
In July, staffers at the BSA Cradle of Liberty Council vacated a city-owned facility near the Ben Franklin Parkway, after waging a five-year legal battle to continue occupying the building rent-free.
But the city will give Cradle $825,000 for improvements Cradle reportedly made to the structure over the years, according to a settlement reached in May.
A retail store operated by the Scouts is scheduled to leave the Parkway building in October, according to the settlement.
— Timothy Cwiek Lambda Legal celebrates 40 years
Join Lambda Legal as the organization celebrates 40 years of representing the LGBT community.
Lambda Legal Philadelphia will host a party from 6-9 p.m. Sept. 12 at PNC Bank, 1600 Market St.
The night will feature hors d’oeuvres and cocktails and an overview of Lambda Legal’s current cases and history of the organization.
For more information or tickets, visit www.lambdalegal.org .
PGTC hosts fundraising brunch
The Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus will host its second annual Sunday Brunch from noon-2 p.m. Sept. 22 aboard the Spirit of Philadelphia.
Boarding will begin at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $80, a portion of which will go to support PGTC’s work to ensure Philadelphia is a top LGBT tourist destination.
Tickets can be purchased at www.philadelphiagaytourism.com.
Sports org. launches Olympics campaign
GO!Athletes, the first national network dedicated to educating, engaging and empowering LGBT athletes and which is based in Philadelphia, is launching a new campaign.
The campaign, #Out4Olympics, will be conducted on Twitter in support of out athletes in Russia and those who are attending the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The campaign is in response to the recent antigay law in the country.
Supporters can upload a favorite sports photo of themselves, add the hashtag #Out4Olympics and submit their photo to @Go_Athletes.
— Angela Thomas Learn about LGBT-employment issues
The Pennsylvania Bar Institute and the LGBT Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Family Law Section will present a program examining developments in employment, labor and benefits law for LGBT Pennsylvanians next week.
“Working OUT” will be held from noon-2 p.m. Sept. 10 at 100 Penn Square East, 10th Floor, Suite 1010.
The program is approved for two hours of Continuing Legal Education credit in substantive law.
Presenters will include state Rep. Dan Frankel, the prime sponsor of the bill to ban LGBT discrimination, as well as attorneys Katie Eyer, Tiffany Palmer, David Rosenblum, Reynelle Brown Staley and Mary Tiernan.
Registration fees vary and range from $80-$174.
For more information or to register, call 800-247-4724.
— Jen Colletta