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Chastity Pasley sentenced for role in gay attack


Friday May 21, 1999


The girlfriend of a man who pleaded guilty to killing gay college student Matthew Shepard has been  sentenced to up to two years in prison for helping to cover up his involvement in the crime.

Chasity Vera Pasley, 20, cried repeatedly as she was sentenced to 15 months to two years in prison for being an accessory after the fact to first-degree murder. Under Wyoming law she had faced a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $3,000 fine.

Pasley said she was sorry for helping to dispose of bloody clothing her boyfriend, Russell Henderson, wore when he beat Shepard to death last October. She admitted to helping to dispose of his bloody clothes and lying to police to provide him with a false alibi. It is not know whether she might have helped to save Shepard's life had she contacted authorities immediately on learning from Henderson that he had helped to "beat up some gay guy."

Authorities say Henderson and Aaron McKinney lured Shepard out of a bar before taking him to a remote area, hitting him over the head 18  times  with the butt of a revolver, and leaving him for dead tied to a fence in near freezing temperatures. He died five days later.

Shepard's parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, who live in Saudi Arabia, did not attend the sentencing; but, in a statement, Judy Shepard asked Pasley why she failed to intervene while her son lay bleeding.

"I have to deal with it every day, forever, not knowing if I could have helped him or not", said Pasley. "I'm so sorry.... I'm disgusted with myself.... I can't live with what I've done." "I needed to face up to what I did," she said. "I can't bring him back. I'm sorry."

But Albany County District Attorney Cal Rerucha told the court that Pasley had never before apologized for her role in the crime

Pasley's pre-sentence report recommended probation. But Wyoming District Judge Jeffrey Donnell said her complicity in helping Henderson while Shepard was unconscious prompted him to order a prison sentence of between 15 and 24 months.

"I don't know if you could have saved him or not," the judge said. "This was a horrific crime. The court cannot separate you from your acts." He said, "Regardless of the reason, those were the things that you did. I want to make it very clear that the court does not ... condone that kind of conduct."

Henderson pleaded guilty last month to kidnapping and felony murder and was sentenced to consecutive life prison terms. McKinney has pleaded innocent and is scheduled to stand trial in Octobert. He faces the death penalty if convicted of murder.

Kristen LeAnn Price, 19, was McKinney's girlfriend. She also was charged with being an accessory after the fact to first-degree murder, but her trial has been delayed



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