Death of Sean Kennedy

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Sean W. Kennedy (April 8, 1987 – May 16, 2007) was a gay American man who was punched and subsequently died as he was leaving a bar in Greenville, South Carolina.[1][2][3]


On May 16, 2007, at about 3:45 am, Kennedy was leaving a local bar in Greenville when a car pulled up beside him, a young man got out of the car, came around and approached Kennedy, then punched him hard enough that his facial bones were broken, he then fell and hit the asphalt. This resulted in his brain separating from his brain stem and ricocheting in his skull. Kennedy later died of his injuries.

After the attack on Kennedy, one of Kennedy's friends received a voicemail that said, "The fucking faggot... owes me $500 for breaking my goddamn hand on his teeth".[4]

Stephen Andrew Moller, who was eighteen years old at the time, was charged with involuntary manslaughter for Sean Kennedy. The warrant stated that the act was "a result of the defendant (Moller) not liking the sexual identity of the victim."[5]


In November 2007, Moller was released to home detention upon paying a $25,000 bond. He was required to stay with his mother until his trial. The charge of murder was reduced to involuntary manslaughter not only because there was no conscious premeditated desire to kill Kennedy, but also because there is no middle step in South Carolina law between murder and involuntary manslaughter. Unable to secure a conviction for murder, the trial lawyers opted for involuntary manslaughter in order to get the violent activity onto Moller's record.[citation needed] The sentence carries a 0–5 years prison term, and Moller was released on July 1, 2009.[6]


On June 11, 2008, Moller appeared at a plea hearing (a no-jury trial) where he received a five-year sentence, suspended to three years, including the time he served in county jail before he was released on bond, a total of 199 days.[citation needed]

At the sentencing, Moller disputed that his attack was a hate crime, claiming that he did not know Kennedy's sexual orientation prior to the attack. This was contradicted by eyewitnesses.[4]

He received a 2-month credit for working on getting his GED and was released 7 days early on July 1, 2009, after having served 12 months in prison, instead of July 7, 2009, because all releases generally occur on the first of the month, according to the department of parole in South Carolina;[7] he will be on probation for 3 years. He was also ordered to take anger management classes, 30-day community service and to have regular alcohol/drug testing and counseling.[4]


The organization Sean's Last Wish Foundation was established by Sean's mother, Elke Kennedy, two weeks after his death.[8] Elke Kennedy spent two years campaigning for the passage of federal hate crimes legislation; the Hate Crime Prevention Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 28, 2009, with Elke Kennedy in attendance at the ceremony at the White House.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Smith, Gordon (2007-05-22). "Speech on The Matthew Shepard Act". Congressional Record. Retrieved 2007-06-14. [dead link]
  2. ^ Anderson, Claire (2007-06-03). "Family of dead man lobbies for hate-crime bill". The Greenville News. Retrieved 2007-06-15. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Who Was Sean William Kennedy?". Sean's Last Wish Foundation. Retrieved 2007-06-15. 
  4. ^ a b c Matt Corner (12 June 2008). "Moller to serve three years for killing". Q-Notes. Retrieved 25 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Paul Hyde, "Community rallies against hate, intolerance", Greenville News, 6 June 2007
  6. ^ Stephen Moller released week early | QNotes Gay Charlotte and LGBT Carolina News, Arts & Entertainment
  7. ^ Gay Man's Killer Released After 1 Year | WYFF Home - WYFF Home
  8. ^ "About the Foundation". Sean's Last Wish Foundation. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  9. ^ "Two years after son's death, mother finds solace in hate crimes bill", CNN, 28 October 2009