Sailor Who Killed Homosexual Shipmate Said He Would Do It Again
YOKOSUKA, Japan (AP) _ A psychiatrist testified Tuesday that steroids, alcohol and severe abuse suffered as a child may have helped trigger violent rage in the sailor who confessed to killing a homosexual shipmate.
But a prosecution witness said that two days after the fatal beating, sailor Terry Helvey stated he had no regrets and would do it again. Another witness, special investigator Dale Wallace, told the court Helvey ″said he was disgusted by homosexuals.″
Helvey, in a pre-trial agreement, pleaded guilty to beating Allen R. Schindler to death Oct. 27. The military trial is to determine Helvey’s sentence, which could be life imprisonment.
The trial comes as Washington debates lifting a longstanding ban on homosexuals in the military. Gay rights activists have said Schindler’s killing illustrates a pervasive hatred of homosexuals in the armed forces.
Air Force psychiatrist Robert Strayhan told a military court that Helvey admitted to using a steroid that is believed to help build muscle bulk, and also may increase aggressive behavior, prior to the attack.
He said Helvey’s addiction to steroids made him irritable, lose sleep and sexual desire, and inflated his sense of self-importance.
Strayhan said steroids may have ″increased the intensity of the violence″ when Schindler, Helvey’s shipmate on the USS Belleau Wood, was beaten to death in a public restroom near the ship’s home port in Sasebo, southern Japan.
He noted that Helvey also had been drinking heavily before the killing.
Navy Dr. Edward Kilbane, who performed the autopsy, testified that Schindler’s condition after the beating ″was similar to a high-speed automobile accident or a low-speed aircraft accident.″
He said the injuries were more consistent with an assault by more than one attacker. He was not questioned further on that point, although unidentified witnesses have been quoted in news reports as saying several men might have been involved in the beating.
Helvey, 21, of Westland, Mich., has pleaded guilty to a charge of murder with intent to inflict great bodily harm. The plea was made under a pretrial agreement that the initial charge of premeditated murder, a capital offense, would be dropped.
Schindler, who also was 21, had told his superiors in September that he was a homosexual and was awaiting discharge when he was killed.
Navy special investigator Kevin Privette said that when he questioned Helvey, he suspected Schindler’s homosexuality might have been an issue and asked Helvey to describe his feelings about homosexuals. He said Helvey replied he ″hated them.″
Helvey allegedly told investigators he attacked Schindler after Schindler made sexual advances toward him in the restroom just before midnight. He has since recanted that statement.
″At one point he (Helvey) just sat back and said, ’I don’t regret it. I’d do it again,‴ Privette said. ″He said he’d always wondered what it would feel like to kill a man.″
Privette said Helvey readily agreed to re-enact how he had put Schindler in a head lock, punched and wrestled him to the floor of the restroom before repeatedly stomping on him with his heel even after Schindler lost consciousness.
Psychiatrist Strayhan did not mention Helvey’s feelings toward homosexuals in his testimony for the defense. Instead, he stressed Helvey’s abuse of steroids and alcohol and the severe beatings Helvey suffered as a child by his stepfather.
Strayhan is to be cross-examined by the prosecution, which rested its case Tuesday, when the trial resumes Wednesday.
Helvey watched impassively as Schindler’s mother, Dorothy Hajdys, told the court her son was so badly beaten that she could not recognize the body when it was returned for burial.
″I had hoped that when the body got home I would be able to identify it, and hold it and kiss it goodbye,″ she said.