Murder of Barry Winchell

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Murder of Barry Winchell
Victim Barry Winchell
LocationFort Campbell, Kentucky , U.S.
DateJuly 6, 1999; 23 years ago (1999-07-06)
Attack type
Murder by bludgeoning
VictimBarry Winchell, aged 21
  • Calvin Neal Glover
  • Justin Robert Fisher
MotiveTransphobia over Winchell dating a trans woman; revenge after Winchell beat Glover in a fight
ChargesFisher (dropped after plea deal)
  • Glover
    Life imprisonment with the possibility of parole (1999; paroled in 2020)
  • Fisher
    12+12 years in prison (paroled after 7 years)

On July 6, 1999, Barry Winchell, a 21-year old infantry soldier in the United States Army, was murdered while he slept, outside of his barracks, by fellow soldier Calvin Glover for dating a transgender woman, Calpernia Addams, after a physical altercation between the two. The murder became a point of reference in the ongoing debate about the policy known as "don't ask, don't tell", which did not allow U.S. military gays, bisexuals, and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation.

Biography of Winchell[edit]

A native of Missouri, Winchell enlisted in the Army in 1997 and was transferred in 1998 to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. As a Private First Class, he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion 502nd Infantry of the 101st Airborne Division. While stationed there, he received a Dear John letter from his high school sweetheart.

Winchell later accompanied his roommate, Spc. Justin Robert Fisher, 25, and other soldiers for an excursion to Nashville's downtown bars. In 1999, Fisher and others took Winchell to a Nashville club, The Connection, which featured transgender performers, where Winchell met a trans woman showgirl named Calpernia Addams.[1] The two began to date. Fisher began to spread rumors of the relationship at Ft. Campbell. Winchell then became a target of harassment which his superiors did almost nothing to stop.[2]


Perpetrators Calvin Glover (left) and Justin Fisher (right)

Calvin Neal Glover was born in Sulphur, Oklahoma. Justin Fisher was born in Lincoln, Nebraska.[3][4]

Glover's parents separated when he was young, and he had a difficult upbringing. He often stayed at a youth home when his family was having issues. A psychologist later said Glover had low self-esteem and was more susceptible to alcohol abuse as a result. She also said he was easily influenced by others since he wanted attention.[5]

When Glover was 13, he moved in with his father. "I saw an immediate change", his mother said. "He was out of control. He was drinking, and he was only 13. He wouldn't stay in school, and he was flunking. He was easily influenced by older people around him. He always ran with older groups." After Glover dropped out of school in 8th grade, his parents enrolled him in a youth counseling program.[6] When he was 17, Glover joined the United States Army with his mother's permission.[5]


The harassment of Winchell was continuous until the Fourth of July weekend, when Winchell and fellow soldier Calvin Neal Glover, 18, fought after Winchell accused a boasting Glover of being a fraud. Both had been drinking beer throughout the day. Glover was soundly defeated by Winchell, and Fisher harassed Glover about being beaten by "'a fucking faggot' like Winchell".[citation needed] Fisher and Winchell had their own history of physical altercations as roommates in the barracks of Ft. Campbell. Fisher continued to goad Glover. Subsequently, in the early hours of July 5, 1999, Glover took a baseball bat from Fisher's locker and struck Winchell in the head with it as he slept on a cot outside near the entry to the room Winchell shared with Fisher.[7] Winchell died of massive head injuries on July 6 at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.[8]

Glover pleaded guilty to unpremeditated murder for killing Winchell. During his plea hearing, he said Fisher had goaded him into attacking Winchell and that he didn't mean to kill him. Tearing up, Glover said "I was just so drunk ... and I had no intent for him to die. It was just a mistake, sir. ... I wasn't mad at him for any reason. I had nothing against him."[9]

However, prosecutors decided to still take Glover to trial for premeditated murder. During the trial, his defense claimed Fisher had goaded him into committing the murder and that it wasn't intentional. "Fisher thought Glover would be an excellent candidate to get Pfc. Winchell", said defense attorney Captain Thomas Moshang. "He knew that Private Glover could be instigated. He was able to work him up, provoke him to the point that Glover said, 'Yeah, I'm going to hit him with this bat.'" The prosecution said Glover was still responsible for his own actions and that the murder was clearly intentional. Prosecutor Captain Gregg Engler said "It's premeditated – murder without a doubt. Glover is not a robot. Glover took the bat and went out there and killed Winchell. He intended to kill because of the massive, massive blows. The first blow. If not the first blow, the second. He could have walked away, but he didn't. He had a choice, and he chose to kill."[5]

He faced a mandatory life sentence, with or without the possibility of parole. Arguing for a chance of parole, Glover's defense team pointed to his difficult upbringing, young age, and claimed that Fisher had used him as a pawn.[5] After deliberating, military jurors decided to give Glover a chance at parole. A psychologist testified that he had gotten along with black youths and gay youths at his youth home, in contrast to previous claims that he was a racist homophobe.

Shortly before he was sentenced, Glover apologized to Winchell's family. His voice cracking, he said "If I had acted as half the man, even half the soldier as Barry was, he’d be with us right now. I have to apologize to Barry's parents. I'm deeply sorry for the pain I've brought your family. This is something that I'll have to remember for the rest of my life." Glover said he was drunk at the time of the murder and was recovering from alcoholism, and that he didn't know why he attacked Winchell. He said he had found God in prison. Glover's attorneys continued to argue that Fisher had goaded him into attacking Winchell. Winchell's parents testified during the hearing, describing him as a loving, compassionate man who enjoyed the Army and wanted to become a helicopter pilot.[10]

Fisher pleaded guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice, one count of providing alcohol to a minor, and three counts of false swearing and was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison. As part of his plea agreement, charges of participating as a principal to premeditated murder and being an accessory after the fact to premeditated murder were dropped. Although Winchell's family was satisfied with Glover's sentence, they were outraged by Fisher's sentence. Winchell's parents, Wally and Patricia Kutteles said "Suddenly, the Army let him plead to nothing related to the actual murder ... justice was not served today." C. Dixon Osburn, then the co-executive director of the OutServe-SLDN, decried the sentence as a "travesty". "We're left with huge questions about why Fort Campbell cut this deal", he said.[11]

In addition to their sentences, Glover and Fisher were also both dishonorably discharged, reduced in rank to private, and ordered to forfeit all of their pay and benefits. They were incarcerated at the United States Disciplinary Barracks.[12][13] Fisher was denied clemency in 2003, released to a halfway house in August 2006, and released from custody in October 2006. Glover was later transferred to a civilian prison and paroled on August 27, 2020.[14]


Winchell's murder led Secretary of Defense William Cohen to order a review of the "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy, which some asserted was a significant factor in Winchell's harassment and murder.[15][16][17] The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network was a prominent critic of how the policy was implemented, and they demanded to know who, in higher ranks, was responsible for the climate on base.[18]

Winchell's parents, Wally and Patricia Kutteles continued to press for a re-examination of "don't ask, don't tell". Lieutenant General Timothy Maude, a point man on LGBT issues for the U.S. Army, visited with Patricia Kutteles. Despite campaigning by the Kutteleses and LGBT activist groups, the Commanding General of Fort Campbell at the time of the murder, Major General Robert T. Clark, refused to take responsibility for the purported anti-gay climate at Fort Campbell under his command.[19] In May 2003, he met with Patricia Kutteles, who opposed his promotion, saying: "He doesn't have the command authority or responsibility. The promotion would be another obstacle in the way of everything we have tried to do to honor our son." His promotion to lieutenant general was delayed in October 2002 and May 2003.[20] After being exonerated, he was nominated and approved for promotion to lieutenant general on December 5, 2003.

The 2003 film Soldier's Girl is based on Winchell's murder and the events leading up to it. Troy Garity portrays Winchell with Lee Pace playing Calpernia Addams. The film received a Peabody Award and numerous Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and sparked the renewed debate of the effects of DADT during Clark's promotion hearings.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ New York Times: David France, "An Inconvenient Woman," May 28, 2000, accessed March 12, 2012
  2. ^ New York Times: Francis X. Clines, "For Gay Soldier, a Daily Barrage of Threats and Slurs," December 12, 1999, accessed March 12, 2012
  3. ^ "Soldier enters plea in beating death". The Oklahoman. Retrieved 2022-04-08.
  4. ^ "Justin Fisher". Military Justice for All. Retrieved 2022-04-08.
  5. ^ a b c d "Glover". The Courier-Journal. 1999-12-10. p. 4. Retrieved 2022-04-08.
  6. ^ "Glover". The Leaf-Chronicle. 1999-12-09. p. 3. Retrieved 2022-04-08.
  7. ^ Thomas Hackett. "The Execution of Private Barry Winchell: The Real Story Behind the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Murder". Archived from the original on February 13, 2006. Retrieved 2006-02-13.. Rolling Stone, 2 March 2000. At
  8. ^ "Lovers in a Dangerous Time", The Advocate, May 27, 2003, pp. 30 ff.
  9. ^ "Glover". The Courier-Journal. 1999-12-08. p. 1. Retrieved 2022-04-08.
  10. ^ "Soldier Gets Life With Parole". AP News. Retrieved 2022-04-08.
  11. ^ "Soldier Gets 12 1/2 Years in Prison for His Role in Beating Death". Los Angeles Times. 2000-01-09. Retrieved 2022-04-08.
  12. ^ "Soldier Pleads Guilty In Gay Slaying Case". The New York Times, January 9, 2000, accessed March 12, 2012
  13. ^ U.S. v. Fisher, 58 M.J. 300 (U.S. Armed Forces Court of Appeals June 17, 2003).
  14. ^ "Episode 33 – Barry Winchell (Part 2)". Military Murder Podcast. 2020-06-04. Retrieved 2021-12-12.
  15. ^ Black, Chris (December 13, 1999). "Pentagon to review 'don't ask, don't tell' policy". CNN.
  16. ^ Elizabeth Becker (February 2, 2000). "Pentagon Orders Training to Prevent Harassment of Gays". The New York Times. Accessed March 12, 2012
  17. ^ Robert Pear (December 12, 1999). "President Admits 'Don't Ask' Policy Has Been Failure". The New York Times. Accessed March 12, 2012.
  18. ^ Philip Shenon (August 14, 1999). "Revised Military Guidelines Fail to Quell Gay Concerns". The New York Times. Accessed March 12, 2012
  19. ^ John Files (October 24, 2003). "Committee Approves Promoting General In Gay-Bashing Case". The New York Times. Accessed March 12, 2012.
  20. ^ "Slain Gay Soldier's Case Slows a General's Rise". The New York Times (May 18, 2003). Accessed March 12, 2012.
  21. ^ John Files (November 19, 2003). "Washington: General's Delayed Promotion". The New York Times. Accessed March 12, 2012.

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