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A jury has found a 23-year-old man guilty of raping and murdering a 13-year-old Arkansas boy in 1999.

Joshua Macabe Brown could face either life in prison or the death penalty for the death of Jesse Dirkhising.

Brown and an accomplice — his homosexual lover, Davis Don Carpenter, 39 — were charged with raping and sodomizing Dirkhising repeatedly after he was drugged, bound and gagged at Brown’s Prairie Grove, Ark. apartment Sept. 26, 1999.

The jurors voted yesterday to convict Brown on a rape charge, which carries two possible prison sentences: 10 to 40 years or life. The judge can decide the sentence if jurors are unable to agree, according to Fox News.

Prosecutors, during the trial, said the boy died because of the drugs and the way he was bound and gagged.

Carpenter will go on trial May 7 on similar charges.

Brown’s defense lawyer, Louis Lim, said at most Brown should be convicted of manslaughter and statutory rape because he did not knowingly or purposefully cause Dirkhising’s death.

Both Brown and Carpenter were charged with repeatedly penetrating the boy with a variety of objects.

The case began to receive widespread national attention following an Oct. 22 editorial by WND editor-in-chief and CEO Joseph Farah.

In his column, Farah laid out the details of the case and criticized the lack of coverage the story had received in the national press.

“It was big news in Northwest Arkansas, but the story of Jesse Dirkhising hasn’t made a ripple in the national news. I wonder why? I wonder if it’s because the victim is not a part of some politically protected sub-group, a special class deserving of extra government privileges? I wonder if it is because the suspects are, indeed, members of such a group,” Farah wrote.

He compared the severity and sensitivity of the case to the death of Matthew Shepard, a gay man who was murdered in Wyoming.

“Remember how the nation stood riveted to the details of a hideous murder that took place in Wyoming when a homosexual was tortured to death? Never mind that the crime had little or nothing to do with the victim’s sexual proclivities,” Farah wrote.

Farah’s column prompted an indignant response from E.R. Shipp, then the Washington Post’s ombudsman.

In a column called “Reporting Two Killings,” the Post’s E.R. Shipp defended her colleagues’ coverage of the Matthew Shepard murder in Wyoming as well as the non-coverage of the slaughter of young Jesse in Arkansas.

“By the time Matthew Shepard died on Oct. 12, 1998 — nearly a week after he was savagely beaten and left ‘tied to a fence like a dead coyote,’ as the Post reported on Oct. 10, 1998 — his story had spread around the world, and he had become a symbol for those who urged Congress to adopt a stronger federal hate crimes law. From Capitol Hill to Hollywood to college campuses across the nation, the assault on an openly gay man was denounced at rallies and candlelight vigils,” Shipp wrote.

“And in editorial pages, including The Post’s. Since the first front-page story, ‘Gay Man Near Death After Beating, Burning,’ this newspaper has carried about 80 items — including news briefs, editorials and columns — that have referred to Shepard,” she said.

Continuing, Shipp said: “I recount this because some readers, prodded by commentators who are hostile to homosexuals and to what they view as a ‘liberal’ press, have inquired why the Shepard case garnered so much attention while another case involving homosexuals — as possible predators rather than as victims — has been all but ignored. There is an explanation for the absence of coverage of the brutal rape and asphyxiation death of 13-year-old Jesse Dirkhising, but those who are inclined to believe the David Dukes, Joseph Farahs and Tim Grahams of the world — who have asserted that the story has been suppressed so that homosexuals won’t be portrayed negatively — will not be satisfied.”

WorldNetDaily covered ongoing aspects of the case throughout its history.

On Feb. 28, WND reported that prosecutors in the case would seek the death penalty on a change of venue from Benton County, Arkansas, because of the publicity the case has received locally.

Then, defense attorneys also asked the court to rule that statements made by Carpenter to police be kept out of the trial, and that a decision calling for police searches in the case was improper.

The following month, on March 17, defense attorneys sought a delay in the trials of both men so they could examine results from fingerprint and handwriting tests.

In May, a Benton County, Ark., court ruled that statements detailing sexual fantasies about young boys could be admitted as evidence in court.

WND also reported May 31 that bail had been denied for Carpenter, despite his lawyer’s assertion that he was no flight risk.

The judge said the case was too heinous to grant the bail request.

WND readers picked the Dirkhising story as one of 1999′s most underreported stories in the national media in the web paper’s “Operation Spike” awards.

Related stories:

No bail in Dirkhising case

Sex fantasies evidence in Dirkhising case

Delay sought in Dirkhising trial

Death penalty sought for Dirkhising suspects

Biggest spikes of 1999

Related columns:

Mourning Jesse Dirkhising

E.R. Shipp, where are you?

Washington Post gets nasty

Jesse Dirkhising’s deliverance

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