Victim of a so-called "gay panic" killing, Amedure was murdered by Jonathan Schmitz on March 9, 1995, just three days after taping a Jenny Jones talk show episode entitled "Same Sex Crushes".
Amedure was an openly gay Army veteran who lived near Detroit. He and Schmitz had known each other for quite some time before appearing on the show together.
During the taping of the show on March 6, Amedure, 32, described having a "secret" crush on--as well as a homosexual fantasy about--Schmitz, then 24. Schmitz was taken by surprise by this revelation which was going to be broadcast on national television and three days later, killed Amedure with two shotgun blasts to the chest. An hour later, he called police and confessed.
The trials which followed created a media sensation, with many pundits holding Jones and the producers of "The Jenny Jones Show" equally responsible for Amedure's death.
During the prosecution of the first trial, Donna Riley, the person who introduced Amedure and Schmitz to each other, and the one responsible for arranging their appearance on Jones' show, testified that after the taping, the trio spent the night drinking together, with Schmitz proclaiming over and over that he "didn't care what anybody thought" about him.
The defense countered by trying to represent Schmitz as a dupe of the producers, whose mental (read, clinical depression and thyroid) problems precluded Schmitz' informed consent regarding his participation in the show. Schmitz himself testified that Amedure was unrelenting in his pursuit of Schmitz and the final blow that pushed Schmitz over the edge was a handwritten note from Amedure a couple of days after the taping of the show. The defense also presented evidence that Amedure was violent and controlling, and had power over Schmitz because Schmitz was short, had been teased in school, and because Schmitz' father was a controlling man who suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result of being a veteran of Vietnam.
Jones herself was called to the stand, and admitted that Schmitz was never told the title of the show, though she was adamant about her staff telling him that the gender of the person who had the crush could be either male or female. She distanced herself from accusations that her staff had encouraged all parties involved to drink heavily before the taping of the show. She also refused to agree that the tactics used could be termed "ambush television".
The first trial found Schmitz guilty of second-degree murder, which was overturned because of irregularities in the jury selection process. A second trial followed, with another second-degree conviction. Schmitz was sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison. Amedure's family sued Jones production company and Warner Brothers in a wrongful death civil suit and was awarded 25 million dollars, though that award is being appealed.
Whenever I hear of someone using the "gay panic" defense, I'm always forced to wonder why anyone would claim that the idea of gay attraction repulses them so much that they are driven to commit murder, premeditated or otherwise. Usually such murderers are caught, tried, convicted, and sent to prison ... thus guaranteeing that they will spend a good portion of their life doing the one thing that they claimed to abhor so much: have sex with other men.
In this case, the punishment fits the crime most exquisitely.
Primary source for this writeup: Court TV website, www.courttv.com