On the 9th of October 1998, Aaron James McKinney and Russel Arthur Henderson attacked Matthew Shepard, a 22 years old student. They beat him violently, smashing his head with a gun butt.
They then left him naked and unconscious, tied to a fence in the freezing night. He was found only 18 hours later, and died after 5 days in agony, never having regained consciousness.
Matthew was gay, and hate against gays was the reason for such vicious behaviour.
The International Lesbian and Gay Community has been deeply affected by this crime, organising night vigils in many towns across the United States, as well as many marches to push for a federal law against "hate crimes". There was a general mobilisation on the Internet with hundreds of sites worldwide "in mourning" on the day of the funeral.
Henderson's trial ended with a two life term sentence, mainly because he seems to have played a lesser role in the crime. McKinney's trial will begin in October, and he strongly risks the death penalty.