Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk
On November 27, 1978, Dan White murders Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk at City Hall in San Francisco, California. White, who stormed into San Francisco's government offices with a .38 revolver, had reportedly been angry about Moscone's decision not to reappoint him to the city board.
White first shot Moscone, then reloaded his pistol and turned the gun on Milk, who was one of the nation's first openly gay politicians and a much-admired activist in San Francisco. Future California Senator and then-Supervisor Dianne Feinstein, who was the first to find Milk's body, found herself addressing a stunned crowd at City Hall. "As president of the Board of Supervisors, it's my duty to make this announcement: Both Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed. The suspect is supervisor Dan White." White, who was apprehended soon after the murders, pleaded a "diminished capacity" defense, claiming that junk food, combined with distress over the loss of his job, caused him to suffer mental problems. The so-called "Twinkie Defense" appeared to be successful, and, in 1979, White was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder. He received a five-year prison sentence. Public outrage was so widespread that California revoked the diminished capacity defense in subsequent cases. After his release, White was unable to resume a normal life, and committed suicide in 1986.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: