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Friend: Man killed at party because he was gay

Huntertown resident arrested in homicide.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 - 10:41 am

The man found dead in a Huntertown neighborhood early Sunday was apparently beaten to death because of the killer's hatred of gays, according to the man's best friend and court documents.

Hours after the killing, police arrested Brian P. Brothers, 35, of Huntertown, in connection with the deadly assault, preliminarily charging him with felony aggravated battery. He is being held in Allen County Lockup in lieu of a $20,000 bond.

The Allen County Coroner's Office on Monday ruled the death of Paul J. Michalik, 36, of Fort Wayne, was caused by blunt-force trauma to the head.

That's spot-on with the take Sylvia Tyszler, the victim's friend, received from Michalik's partner of 17 years, Jerry Chambers, who Tyszler said was also victimized in the alleged assault that occurred as the couple was trying to leave a home in the 1300 block of Monte Carlo Drive around 4:30 a.m.

Tyszler, speaking from her home in Chicago, said Chambers and Michalik were at a party Saturday night thrown by one of Chambers' co-workers, and Michalik had fallen asleep on a couch. Tyszler said Chambers told her that when Michalik was found sleeping, a man ordered him to leave because he was gay.

Chambers was helping Michalik from the home when an argument ensued, Tyszler said.

Tyszler said the man began beating Michalik and Chambers both, eventually throwing Michalik down a flight of stairs in the home.

Chambers reportedly suffered injuries to both legs and is under heavy medication, Tyszler said. Michalik was found by passers-by lying in the Monte Carlo Drive roadway, dead.

Allen County Police spokesman Jeremy Tinkle would not confirm nor deny Tyszler's assertion that the incident was indeed a hate crime, but Allen County Sheriff's Det. John Zagelmeier learned through his investigation that Chambers reported the assault was hate-fueled.

“The defendant has beaten him and Michalik up because they were gay,” wrote Zagelmeier in Brothers' probable-cause affidavit.

Zagelmeier reported that Brothers inflicted punches and kicks to the face and upper body of Michalik, the affidavit said. Chambers told Zagelmeier that at one point, as he “played dead,” Brothers kicked Michalik in the ribs and Michalik exhaled with each blow, the affidavit said.

Brothers told police he began fighting with Michalik only after Michalik pushed him, the affidavit said, and that he helped Chambers carry Michalik from the home before leaving him in the grass.

Zagelmeier reported Brothers had bruising and swelling on his hands, and no visible marks anywhere else on his body, the affidavit said.

While the motive seems clear in the affidavit, Tinkle also would not release any motive police are looking into, reiterating the case is under investigation by the Allen County Sheriff's Department and the Allen County coroner's and prosecutor's offices.

To Tyszler, though, her friend's death is a cut-and-dried case of hate.

“He was my best friend and I don't know what to do,” said Tyszler. “This is a big thing. It's a hate crime – the guy was killed because he was gay.”

Tyszler said Michalik, a hairdresser at A Day Away salon, was the friend who would give a stranger the shirt off his back.

He was as loving and selfless as he was flamboyant, and the combination made him easy to befriend, Tyszler said.

“Anybody that met him fell in love with him. He has more friends than I can imagine; just a really, really wonderful person. The world has lost a great man.”

Michalik loved days beside the local swimming pool, his dogs and animals in general, Tyszler said, but more than anything, he loved pop icon Madonna.

He will be “missed by thousands,” Tyszler said.

“This is a hate crime,” said Tyszler. “This … is not just some drunk, stupid guy at a party. This guy was just completely macerated.

“Just because somebody is gay doesn't mean that they deserve to be beaten to death.”

Michalik's death is the county's 14th homicide of 2010. All but two – Michalik's being one of the two – occurred in city limits.