The Face of Hate

tyackwebThis is from the first murder trial I ever photographed, the 1982 trial of William Robert Tyack. A Bakersfield businessman, Tyack was not happy that two gay men had moved near his home in the Kern County mountain community of Glennville. He had, according to trial testimony, openly stated that if given a chance to kill the two men, he would do it. And he did just that, one day on a mountain road near Glennville when he encountered the two men. One of the men was fatally shot point blank in the chest; the other was fatally shot several times in the back, presumably as he fled. In a trial that drew national attention, Tyack was found not guilty of first degree murder. He was acquitted on one count (the point blank shooting) where the jury ruled self defense, and convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the case of the man shot in the back. He was sentenced to four years in prison. The case and verdict generated instant negative attention on Kern County, as a place where intolerance against gays was acceptable. Reporters and legal observers who attended the entire trial, however, contended that the prosecutor simply lost the jury by dragging out the trial and was “out-lawyered” by the defense.  I shot this picture in the early stages of the trial, as Tyack glared at me.

Tyack’s wife and son react as the verdict is read. He was found not guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced to four years for involuntary manslaughter.

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