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Russell Henderson, 21, a high school dropout and roofer, pleaded guilty to felony murder and kidnapping, avoiding a trial and the possibility of the death penalty.
Authorities said Henderson and Aaron McKinney, 21, posed as homosexuals and lured the 5-foot-2, 105-pound Shepard out of a bar last October, kidnapped and pistol-whipped him and left him tied to a fence in the cold. The 21-year-old University of Wyoming student died five days later at a hospital.
Henderson said he drove the truck and helped tie Shepard to the fence, but blamed McKinney for the beating. He said he tried to stop the beating, but McKinney struck him when he spoke up.
?Matthew looked really bad, so I told [McKinney] to stop, he's had enough,? Henderson said.
Henderson then apologized to Shepard's parents, Judy and Dennis: ?I'm very sorry for what I did and I'm ready to pay my debt for what I did.?
Judge Jeffrey A. Donnell dismissed his apology.
?This court does not believe you feel any remorse,? Donnell said when he sentenced him. ?The pain you have caused here, Mr. Henderson, will never go away. Never.?