Skinhead on trial describes the beating death of a gay man

Associated Press/August 5, 1999

Rockford, Ala.-- A skinhead who pleaded guilty to killing a gay man testified Wednesday that his co-defendant did not strike the fatal blows, but did join him in a scheme to lure the victim to a remote area with the promise of sex.

Steven Eric Mullins said he plotted to kill Billy Jack Gaither to steal his money and because the gay man made a pass at him. Mullins said he invited Charles M. Butler Jr. to help because he "didn't like queers either."

Mullins, 25, has pleaded guilty to capital murder in the Feb. 19 death of Gaither, 39, who was beaten with an ax handle and had his throat cut.

Butler, 21, admitted to police that he helped Mullins burn Gaither's body atop a pile of old tires and set Gaither's car afire to destroy evidence, but he blamed Mullins for the murder.

Mullins, six-feet-one and 200 pounds, has the shaved head of a skinhead and "SS" tattooed on his right hand.

"It's a racial tattoo. It's a skinhead tattoo," he testified.

Mullins, who had served 2 1/2 years in prison for burglary and forgery, said he made plans to kill Gaither after being propositioned, and invited Butler along. He said he told Gaither they were going to have sex.

"Are you telling these ladies and gentlemen that one of the reasons you set Billy Jack Gaither up was because he was gay?" defense attorney Billy Hill asked.

"Yes, sir," Mullins replied.

"And you hate gays?"

"Yes, sir."

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