Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Big Sentence For Galveston Hate Crime Attacker

Galveston, TX – Alejandro Sam Gray,18, (pictured at left), wasn’t expecting a 20 year sentence for chunking a 4 lb. hunk of concrete into a gay man’s head at a gay bar, but the judge had other ideas this past Friday.  According to the Galveston County Daily News, 212th District Court Judge Susan Criss, said: “It has been suggested that the actions by (Gray) were done because of his youth, because of his immaturity and because he was following the wrong crowd, and I am not buying any of that. He made a decision to commit a crime of violence and a crime of hate.”  Gray pled guilty to assault with a deadly weapon, and to a hate crime enhancement charge, since he and accomplices chose a gay bar for their violence-spree on Sunday, May 1, 2009.  Along with two brothers, Lawrence Henry Lewis III (20), Lawrneil Henry Lewis (18), Gray, 17 at the time of the attack, swung the door of Robert’s Lafitte Lounge, a landmark gay bar on Galveston Island for years, heaving rocks and jagged pieces of concrete block being used as door stops at patrons.  One struck Marc Bosaw in the back of the head, leaving a gash in his scalp that required twelve staples to close.  James Nickelsen was also wounded and treated at the scene.  The three youths ran away after the assault, but police apprehended them within 10 blocks of the bar.  All three were arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, and placed under $120,000 bond.  The hate crime enhancement came later when it was determined that they had deliberately intended to terrorize gay men.  Texas passed a state hate crimes law including a provision to protect gays and lesbians back in 2001, but the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act has been invoked so infrequently in the Lone Star State that it has been all but ineffective.  As Equality Texas noted in 2009, though more than 1,800 hate crimes occurred in Texas during a nine-year period from 2001 to 2009, only 9 cases in the state were prosecuted under the provisions of the law.  Hunter Jackson, a University of Texas journalism intern and hate crime survivor opined, “With the recent passage of the Federal Hate Crimes Bill, more pressure will likely be on Texas prosecutors to obtain hate crime rulings, since the bill gives the federal government power to intervene when states are not upholding the provisions of their own hate crime statutes.”  That was the case in Galveston this past week.  Judge Criss handed down a stiff penalty for anti-gay hate.  Gray’s accomplice, Lawrence Henry Lewis III, had struck a plea deal back in January and was sentenced to 5 years in prison.  The Galveston County District Attorney had asked the same for Gray, and most expected the same sentence.  Gray’s lawyer argued for deferred adjudication for his client.  Some are calling the sentence excessive.  Philip Lipnick, a youth counselor and director of Galveston Youth Creating Their Own Future, had testified on Gray’s behalf at the trial, and told the Daily News, “More harm than good will be done by this.  (Gray) has never had a criminal record before this. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don’t know what kind of message the judge is trying to send.”  Sounds to us at the Unfinished Lives Project that the judge’s message to Gray and to Texas couldn’t be clearer.  The other Lewis brother is to be tried in April.

March 29, 2010 - Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, gay men, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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