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UTAH’S GAY COMMUNITY PROTESTS KILLER’S SENTENCE

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Members of Utah's gay community rallied Monday night to protest a judge's decision to give a reduced sentence to a Nevadan who shot and killed a homosexual man.

More than 100 people attended a rally at the Utah Capitol, and many called for 3rd District Judge David Young's removal from the bench."What Judge Young has said is that it's OK to kill faggots. This is beyond insult," said David Nelson, founder of the Gay and Lesbian Utah Democrats.

Young ordered David Thacker to serve a zero-to-five-year sentence with a one-year enhancement for shooting Douglas Koehler in the head nearly a year ago. Thacker was originally charged with murder but pleaded to a reduced charge of manslaughter.

The maximum penalty for the reduced charge is one to 15 years in prison, but Young felt that was "too high a penalty" and sentenced Thacker as if the charge were reduced one more degree.

Upset members of the dead man's family said they believe the lighter sentence was imposed because Koehler was gay.

"It hurts to think our brother's life was taken by this man and it's being justified because he was drunk and on drugs and because he (Thacker) was embarrassed because a pass was made at him," said Christine Williams.

Young has also come under fire recently by the National Organization for Women for decisions involving ethnic minorities and women. NOW has begun a detailed research of his decisions in cases involving women's issues and plans to put a feminist in the judge's courtroom to listen for misogynist remarks, said NOW-Utah spokeswoman Luci Malin.