Death Penalty Possible for Gay Men in Dirkhising Murder

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - An Arkansas circuit judge ruled Friday that prosecutors can seek the death penalty against two homosexual men charged with repeatedly raping a 13-year-old Bentonville boy, Jesse Dirkhising, then allowing him to die of asphyxiation.

At a pretrial hearing, Benton County Circuit Judge David Clinger also granted a defense request that potential jurors can be given a questionnaire to determine whether they had already made up their minds about the highly-publicized case. But Clinger said lawyers could not delve too deeply into their private lives by asking questions such as what types of magazines they read.

Davis Carpenter Jr., 38, and Joshua Brown, 22, are charged with capital murder and six counts of rape in the death of Dirkhising on September 26th. The gay men are being held without bond pending their trial on April 10th.

Clinger said he would consider a defense request to move the trial to another venue because the notoriety received in the case could keep Brown and Carpenter from getting a fair trial here. "I'm very much concerned about being able to pick a jury here in Benton County," Clinger said.

According to court records, Brown said he and Carpenter had tied Jesse's hands behind his back at the men's home in Rogers, AR, then placed a pair of underwear in his mouth and secured it with duct tape.

Brown repeatedly raped the boy while Carpenter watched, police said. Brown took a break to eat a sandwich and soon noticed the boy had stopped breathing, according to police. Carpenter called 911, investigators said.

An autopsy indicated the boy died of positional asphyxia, the inability to breathe while in restrictive positions.