Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gay Man Convicted of Killing
HIV Poz Partner with a Golf Club

 (The late Stuart Mark. Credit: The Winnipeg Sun.)

Earlier this month in Canada, a jury found a gay man guilty in the brutal killing of his HIV positive partner. The case has received minimal attention here in the United States, with the POZ magazine newsfeed being the only domestic outlet to report on it. 

I want to say how important it is for HIV positive people to disclose their sero-status to all potential sex partners before engaging in sexual activities. At the same time, it's equally important for HIV negative individuals to practice safe sex, regardless of whether they know their sex partner's HIV status.

While the dead man's behavior was irresponsible, it was no excuse for his lover to end his life. A tragic situation all around, and if there is any good to come of it, let's hope it leads to better disclosure practices by HIV positive folks and enhanced education for HIV negative individuals to engage in sexual intimacy that does not place them at-risk for contracting HIV, regardless of their partner's disclosure or lack of it, or his sero-status.

Everyone needs to have sexual risk boundaries and take personal responsibility for not transmitting or contracting HIV.

From the Winnipeg Sun story about the conviction:

A jury has convicted Michael Pearce of manslaughter in the beating death of his gay lover Stuart Mark.

Jurors deliberated less than three hours before reaching a verdict about 3 p.m. Thursday.

Mark, 36, was found beaten to death in his Alfred Avenue home in January 2007. Jurors clearly rejected Pearce’s claim police coerced him to falsely confess to the killing.

Prosecutors alleged Pearce beat Mark to death with a golf club after Mark disclosed he was HIV positive.

Jurors heard police had no forensic evidence connecting Pearce to the killing. Pearce was interviewed several times and passed a polygraph test before he came to police in July 2007 and said he might have more information about the killing. It was during that final lengthy interview — recorded on video — that Pearce told police he may have attacked Mark with a golf club. [...]

Crown attorney Dale Harvey said Pearce clearly identified where police found Mark’s body — something only his killer would know.

If Pearce wasn’t responsible for the killing, he had no reason to approach police for that final interview, Harvey said. [...]

There is no minimum sentence for manslaughter. The maximum sentence is life in prison. Pearce remains free on bail. He will return to court for sentencing July 3.

An earlier Winnipeg Sun article provided additional details, including the injuries that lead to the demise of the death man:

"I was just so angry that he didn't tell me, 'cause we fooled around. And then he tells me he has AIDS," Pearce tells Winnipeg police Detectives John O'Donovan and Chad Depencier. "I was just kind of terrified at that whole fact and angry. We got into an argument," Pearce said. "I can't believe that my actions actually killed somebody," he later says.

Prosecutors allege Mark, 36, was beaten to death after telling Pearce, with whom he had been in a "casual homosexual relationship," that he had HIV. The Crown contends Mark was beaten on his head with a golf club and stabbed, but concedes there are no witnesses, DNA or forensic evidence linking Pearce to the killing.


Sean Strub said...


Thanks for bringing attention to this horrific case.

While I agree that it is important that someone disclose in advance factors that could put someone's sex partner at risk, does that necessarily mandate disclosure of one's HIV status in every circumstance?

What if he had an undetectable viral load and used a condom; does that ethically or morally compel disclosure? I'm not so sure it does.

This incident highlights the danger to people with HIV when they do disclose, albeit in this circumstance it was after they had intimate contact (but we don't know what kind or how safe or unsafe it might have been).


David Foltz said...

I knew Stuart for many years.... he was one of the kindest, friendliest people you could know! [Really bad at Karaoke though...LOL].
It's a shame that our local papers or media did not cover any of this!
BTW, he was always forth right with telling people he was HIV+, the person who killed him I think I know who it was, if it's the person I know then he's a psycho, he didn't need a reason to kill someone!