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Execution on hold for man convicted of torture, killing of gay man

Saturday, May 7, 2011
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Richard Laird

The scheduled execution of a Pennsylvania man, who was twice-convicted in the torture and murder of a gay man, has been put on hold.

Richard Laird was scheduled to be executed on May 12 for the slaying of Levittown, Pa., artist Anthony Milano in 1987. Prosecutors said Milano, 26, was targeted because he was gay. Laird has been granted a stay of execution while his attorneys pursue post-conviction appeals.

Convicted with Laird in 1988 was his drinking buddy, Frank Chester of Tullytown, Pa., who also received a death sentence. Chester’s conviction also was overturned recently, but prosecutors are still contesting that decision.

The case drew wide notoriety because it was among the first to draw attention to gay-bashing in this area. Prosecutors said Milano had been accosted by Chester and Laird in a bar, harassed because he was gay, and forced to drive them home.

Milano was found dead along a road in Bristol Township, beaten and slashed in the throat so many times that his spinal cord was severed.

Two juries — one in 1988 and another in 2007 — have convicted and sentenced Laird, 47, to death for his role in the torture killing. The first conviction was overturned by a federal judge in 2001. Laird was was retried and convicted again in 2007.

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