The two men who were charged with Ryan's murder were sentenced to life in prison without parole. There were two separate trials that took place in February and October of 2009. My family and I attended both trials and they were incredibly difficult on everyone. The first day and the final day of the Joseph Beardon trial were by far the most emotional points in the entire process. My most vivid recollection of the first day was the shock of sitting less than 20 feet away from my brother's killer. I was filled with a healthy amount of anger throughout the trials but this day in particular it was the most pronounced. I was constantly fighting the urge to leap over the railing and attack Joseph Beardon. Not that I could have harmed him before the sheriff officers in the room tackled me. But cooler heads prevailed and I didn't embarrass our family and myself.
If you knew Ryan at all you know that he was a very kind and thoughtful person. You also know that he would never threaten or harm anyone. One of the things that I struggle with to this day is trying to understand why anyone would want to harm him. The only thing I come up with is that Joseph Beardon and William Brown wanted to harm Ryan because he was gay. Now I do not know the reason why there is violence against the LGBT community. Why do people attack others when they are different from them? Why don't more people know that anti-gay attacks happen frequently? I'm hopeful that we can educate the general public on the harm we do as a society when we demean and minimize the rights of our LGBT friends and family.