Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

2 Arrested in Savage Gay Bashing Case in East Texas: Breaking News

James "Tray" Lasater III, and Daniel Martin (l to r; Lamar County Sheriff's Department photo)

Reno, Texas – Two local men were arrested this morning for the barbaric beating and burning of a gay man at a party in Reno, Texas this past Sunday.  Dallas Voice broke the story this morning, reporting that Reno Police Chief Jeff W. Sugg announced the arrests of James “Tray” Laster III, 31, and Daniel Martin, 33, for their role in one of the most savage anti-gay attacks in recent East Texas history.  26 year old Burke Burnett was slashed on his forearm and his back with a broken beer bottle, he was punched and beaten, and then heaved into a burning metal barrel in the early morning hours of  October 30. Narrowly escaping with his life, thanks to the action of girlfriends on the scene, Burnett was given over 30 stitches to close the wounds, and his second-degree burns were treated.  But the psychological trauma of the attack will take much longer to heal.

Burnett and his friends say they have no doubt that homophobia fueled the assault.  The assailants shouted gross obscenities and anti-gay epithets as they pressed their attack against Burnett.  But whether the men will be prosecuted under the state’s hate crime statute is in doubt.  The main charges lodged against the suspects, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and aggravated assault inflicting serious bodily injury, area first degree felonies that could carry a sentence of five to 99 years, if the men are convicted.  But the Texas hate crime law, though it does include “sexual preference” as a category, will not offer a sentence enhancement if the crime is determined to be a first degree felony.  The Dallas Voice opined yesterday that it was unlikely that the hate crime charge would be pressed in this case, though that call remains with the Lamar County District Attorney Gary Young. LGBT activists and allies across the state have been critical of how rarely the Texas hate crime statute is invoked in cases of anti-LGBTQ violence as seemingly clear as this one.  As of the 2010 Texas Department of Public Safety statistical report on hate crimes in the Lone Star State, over 2500 bias crimes have been reported since the law was enacted in 2001, while only 11 had been prosecuted, as reported by KXAN.

November 2, 2011 - Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Burning and branding, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slashing attacks, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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