The Laramie Project

The Laramie Project

The Laramie Project Act 3: A Death Penalty Case Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Act Three opens with the prosecuting lawyer of Aaron McKinney’s case, Cal Rerucha, talking about Aaron’s impending trial. Cal tells the interviewers that it will “definitely” be a death penalty case. Various Laramie residents then give their opinions on the death penalty. Marge Murray says that she partially hopes that Aaron gets the death penalty, but she feels conflicted. Zackie Salmon, meanwhile, expresses full support for the death penalty. Matt Mickelson says he does not want Aaron to be put to death, but he hopes Aaron is locked up for life. Matt Galloway agrees.
Cal Rerucha describes the case against Aaron as “definitely” a death penalty case, suggesting that the prosecution has deemed that, according to the law, Aaron’s actions qualify him for the death penalty. However, the death penalty is clearly a controversial topic in Laramie, with some people thinking that a violent punishment to a violence crime is the only proper punishment, and others believing the opposite.
Themes
Violence, Punishment, and Justice Theme Icon
Zubaida Ula says she defers to the Shepard family’s wishes, but she knew Aaron McKinney in elementary school, and so she has a hard time with the idea of putting him to death. Father Roger talks about the importance of learning lessons from Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney and letting them be society’s “teachers.” Father Roger hopes that part of their sentence will be that they have to tell others about their crimes and their repentance. The court Bailiff ends the moment by saying the court is in session.
Father Roger’s belief that Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson should be required to tell their stories as part of their sentence suggests that narrative provides the possibility of both repentance and education. In this way, The Laramie Project, as a narrative in itself, could be viewed as the Laramie community’s atonement for its complicity in perpetuating a culture of homophobia.
Themes
Homophobia, Tolerance, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Violence, Punishment, and Justice Theme Icon
Theater and Representation Theme Icon