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Man Accused of Killing Gay Son to Appear in Court

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Giovanni Melton’s mother says that her son was killed after coming out to his father.

A Nevada man accused of killing his son for being gay will appear in court this week.

Veronica Melton says that her son, Giovanni, was shot by her ex-husband, Wendell, after an argument a year ago. While the 53-year-old shooter says he did not mean to pull the trigger and the killing was accidental, his ex-wife says the crime was motivated by homophobia.

"My ex-husband was always trying to find out if my son was gay, but my son would never tell him," Veronica tells the local news station KTNV.

The 14-year-old, who was a student at Coronado High School, had come out to his mother just two months earlier and is thought to have also come out to his father as well. "He couldn't deal with it because, when I was married to him, he would make very disparaging remarks against people that were gay, and to me I know that he was homophobic," Melton claims.

The family had been embroiled in a custody battle involving Giovanni and a sibling during the time of the alleged murder.

Sonja Jones, who had been Giovanni's foster mother, told fellow news outlet KSNV that Wendell Melton hated having a gay son. "I'm sure that inside of his mind, he would rather have a dead son than a gay son," Jones says. According to Jones, the boy "was abused physically and mentally and spiritually for many, many years."

Jones says Wendell had already pulled a gun on his son once before after finding him with another boy. After Giovanni was killed, police found six illegally kept guns in Melton's home.

Melton has been jailed for nearly two years following the slaying. Earlier this year, his trial was postponed and his bail lowered, through the family says that District Attorney Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson initially promised to oppose changes to his bail. Melton was also moved to house arrest.

At his court appearance on Wednesday of this week, a judge will determine whether the case is ready for trial. Veronica Melton and Sonja Jones have asked for hate crime charges to be filed against Wendell Melton, but so far no such charges have been made. Nevada's hate crime statutes cover both sexual orientation and gender identity.

Fifteen states, however, still do not have inclusive hate crimes laws enumerating protection for LGBTQ+ people.

RELATED | Nevada Man Shoots Son for Being Gay: 'He Would Rather Have a Dead Son Than a Gay Son'

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