Larry Hooper was murdered by his roommate, a devout Christian who identified himself as a good person and an Eagle Scout, and who insisted that he had done nothing wrong by murdering an atheist. Indeed, he feared that the murder victim, left sitting on his couch with his own brains in his hands, would come to life again–presumably to go on explaining that God is a myth. The attitudes and actions of the murderer appear to be insane and delusional. However, it appears that within his own family, they were normal, peer-supported attitudes, as became apparent at the murder trial of Arthur Shelton:
THE MURDER OF LARRY HOOPER
On October 18, 2004 Arthur Shelton, a self described Christian and Eagle Scout, murdered his friend and roommate, Larry Hooper because Hooper didn’t believe in God.
After many months of postponements and on December 18, 2005, Arthur Shelton, with his defense attorney, Seymour Swartz, appeared at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit, Michigan before Judge Gregory D. Bill to face charges of murder in the first degree brought by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Christina Guiruis.
The trial began with the taped phone call Arthur Shelton placed to the Taylor police department in Taylor, Michigan October 18, 2004 at precisely 12:44 AM. Shelton sounded calm and pridefull when he told the dispatcher he had just shot “the devil himself” with a revolver and a shotgun because “he [Hooper) didn’t believe in God.” … The dispatcher struggled to persuade Shelton to lay down his weapon and go outdoors with his arms raised. Eventually Shelton complied but resisted, as he feared Hooper might not be “dead enough.”
…[On] Day three of the trial we heard summary arguments. The defense had little problem proving that Arthur is obsessed with religion, God and Eagle Scouts and pleaded for a verdict of not guilty due to insanity. The prosecution had little problem proving that Arthur was competent, knew the difference between right and wrong and called for a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree. As this was a wavered trial Judge Bill rendered his verdict quickly — guilty of second-degree murder with mental illness.
[Day of sentencing] … In the end, the now stern faced Judge Bill pronounced sentencing – 25 to 45 years. Shelton was stunned and tried to negotiate the sentence stating, “I’m 50 years old and that is as good as a life sentence.” Judge Bill responded with, “Mr. Shelton you gave Larry Hooper a life sentence by committing one of the most heinous murders to come before my court.”….
… Word that we were Atheists travelled fast in this court room that offered very limited seating and the only others in attendance were 11 members of Shelton’s family who immediately began taunting George [Shiffer] and me with “the people from hell, evil, and devils.” At breaks they waited for us in the hall and continued with more of the same while adding ” God loves you” and blowing us kisses and shoving their crosses worn on chains around their necks in our face. Several of the women even followed me into the bathroom and did their best to intimidate me with their crosses….
On Day two when George and I, together with Joe Milon, entered the court room the taunting began immediately. Within an hour the Judge announced that those making gestures and faces had better cease or they would be removed. For the balance of the day the Christians wore their neck crosses on their backs, as we were seated in the back row, while constantly flopping them about with their hand. Upon returning from lunch and without court escort, the Christians were waiting for us on the seventh floor and lunged at us with small signs they had painted – Jesus lives, God loves you and again their crosses thrusting all of this within 2 or 3 inches from our noses. Tempers flared and a brief shouting match began. Brief because the court officers were there in a flash.
Day three found Atheist Lee Helms in the same taunting position of the previous days though he was not known to the court or the Christians. At the conclusion of the day an officer of the court detained him stating they have been having trouble with ‘those’ (Christians) people and given an escort to the elevators.
But, having all that behind us, December 19th, the day of sentencing was a horrific experience for myself, George Shiffer, Joe Milon, Lee Helms and Marty Maier. When leaving the courtroom the ‘Christian’ Shelton family lay in wait for us in the hallway. Their tears dried and surrounding us shouting these comments, “The one good thing of all of this is that another Atheist is dead and the world is better off for it.” And, “the only good Atheist is a dead Atheist.”
American Atheists is a [U.S.] nationwide movement that defends civil rights for nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy
It’s odd that those “aware of the problem” officials didn’t charge a few people for threatening.Or didn’t corral the offenders until their intended victims had left, instead of hustling the victims around and interfering with their freedom of movement.