Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Alleged Hate Rapist of Terlingua Teen Out On Hush-Hush Bail

(images courtesy of Towleroad)

Brewster County, Texas – An alleged rapist and kidnapper of a gender non-conforming 18-year-old boy was quietly released on bail in Big Bend Country before the Christmas holidays. The Unfinished Lives Project has learned that Daniel Martinez, 46 at the time of the alleged kidnapping and rape of a Terlingua teen in December 2009, was granted release on bail by Alpine Judge and Justice of the Peace Jerry Sotello on December 20, 2010. According to the report of Clarence Russeau, an educator and community organizer in Alpine, the accused rapist was granted bail of $20,000 for each of three counts: kidnapping, aggravated assault, and arson. The victim was not notified by the court, the justice of the peace, or District Attorney Jesse Gonzales Jr. that Martinez had been released from jail, and he only found out the news in the first week of January from counselors associated with the Family Crisis Center of the Big Bend. According to most recent reports, the second accused assailant, Kristopher Buchanan, 27 at the time of the rapes, is still being held in jail pending court action, though his name appears nowhere on a docket.  As Unfinished Lives has reported, the young victim who was kidnapped from the Boat House Bar, was allegedly spirited out to a remote desert residence by Martinez and Buchanan, where his car was torched and he was repeatedly raped by the pair until he escaped three miles on foot through rugged terrain wearing no more than pajama bottoms, a torn tee-shirt, and flip-flops with no socks in freezing temperatures. Sources in Alpine say that the deteriorating health of Martinez was given as an excuse for the release. Martinez reportedly has suffered two heart attacks in jail since his arrest, and one source said that Martinez’s short life expectancy prompted the leniency of officers of the court. Martinez has been ordered to appear before the court monthly to establish that he has not absconded, but the proximity of Brewster County to the U.S.-Mexico border casts doubt on the wisdom of the decision to let an untried defendant go. The porous border around Terlingua has become an issue of national concern in recent years, and surreptitious travel back and forth across the Rio Grande in the desolate Big Bend country is a regular occurrence. Close observers of District Attorney Gonzales and the local courts have voiced concerns about Buchanan’s situation, as well. Buchanan’s name has been dropped from the January court docket. In the recent past, DA Gonzales has surprised plaintiffs and the public by making sudden plea bargain deals with defendants whose names, like Buchanan’s, had been dropped from the docket of the court. Since Buchanan faces three charges courts in two other counties, Terlingua citizens fear that he may be seconded to those jurisdictions in a sort of judicial shell game, postponing a trial in Brewster County for months and years to come. The inside game being played by court officials and law enforcement in Brewster County and the 83rd Judicial District of Texas seems to have unreasonably stalled justice for a young man who has suffered sexual assault, kidnapping, and destruction of his property, all because he was perceived to be gay. Does the safety and security of gender non-conforming youth mean anything to officers of the court in the largest county in Texas?  Does it take a hate crime murder to motivate the legal system in Deep South Texas to take sexual assault against minors seriously?  Where is justice, a right to a speedy trial, and the rule of law in Big Bend country?  It is hard for us in the Unfinished Lives Project Team to see any sufficient rationale for denying Martinez and Buchanan their day in court for so long, and for leaving a youth harmed so grievously in limbo for well over a year.

January 21, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Brewster County Texas, gay teens, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Kidnapping and sexual assault, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, rape, Terlingua, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Wolf-Like” Street Gang Gay-Bashing Rampage In New York

Latin King Goonies Arrested for Anti-Gay Torture (NY Daily News composite photo)

New York City, New York – Members of the Latin King Goonies, a street gang based in the Bronx, went on the attack last week to brutalize men they perceived to be gay, including a 17-year-old allegedly sodomized with the wooden handle of the toilet plunger.  The New York Daily News reports that seven members of the Goonies were arrested, ranging in ages from 16- to 23-years-old.  At least two other gang members are being sought by police in connection with the homophobic series of crimes.  “These suspects employed terrible, wolf-pack odds of nine against one, odds which revealed them as predators whose crimes were as cowardly as they were despicable,” Ray Kelly, Police Commissioner for New York City told reporters for the News. Throughout the attacks, the suspects shouted homophobic slurs at their victims.  According to The Advocate, the suspects allegedly ran amok after learning that one of their new gang initiates, a 17-year-old, was a gay.  They kidnapped and tortured a 30-year-old man believed to be the lover of the Goonies pledge, sadistically forcing the youth to burn his friend with lit cigarettes.  The victim was also beaten with a chain, forced to chug large amounts of an alcohol-laced energy drink called Four Loko, and then was sodomized with a small baseball bat.   A second 17-year-old male was kidnapped and sodomized with a wooden toilet plunger handle while the others were forced to watch.  The Daily News report says that the gang topped off the day by beating and robbing a fourth man.  Led by 23-year-old Ildefonso (Cheto) Mendez, the seven were transported to the 41st Precinct station, where they are being held pending arraignment.  Besides Mendez, those arrested were David Rivera, 21; Nelson Falu, 18; Steven Carballo, 17; Denis Peitars, 17; Bryan Almonte, 17; and Brian Cepeda, 16. Still being sought, they said, are Elmer Confessor, 23; and Ruddy Vargas-Perez, 22. The suspects are charged with sodomy, abduction, imprisonment, menacing, assault, and robbery–all categorized as hate crimes.  Reaction the anti-gay rampage has been swift.  New York authorities are especially sensitive to anti-gay bias crimes in the wake of a recent bashing incident involving two young men who assaulted a gay man in the toilet of the historic Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, the birthplace of the Gay Rights Movement in America.  Numbers of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes are on the rise in New York according to The Daily News.  As of Monday, this year’s total has reached 44 as compared with 41 at this same time a year ago.  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., said, “Bronxites will not tolerate any form of bigotry in our borough,” and New York City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn demanded action against gay bashers throughout the five boroughs.”These attacks are appalling and are even more despicable because the victims were clearly targeted in acts of hate simply because they are gay,” she said. Police Commissioner Kelly told reporters that this latest attack had nothing to do with a gang initiation.  This one was about pure hatred of homosexuals.  One 17-year-old victim, Kelly said, was “thrown into a wall, made to strip naked, hit in the head with a beer can, cut with a box cutter and sodomized with the wooden handle of a plunger.”  According to the New York Times City Blog, the tortures took place over several hours at 1910 Osbourne Place, a Goonies safe house often surrounded by as many as ten pit bull attack dogs.  Residents of Morris Heights called the site, “the Goonies House,” and told investigators that the gang used it to throw parties, have sex, and as a staging ground for their attacks on a series of victims in recent months.  Commissioner Kelly told the press that the attackers worked hard to clean up after their bloody work.  The suspects pulled up linoleum, ripped out rugs, and repainted the torture chamber where the crimes took place.  One detective told the Commissioner that the house was “The cleanest crime scene I’ve ever seen,” quote unquote. “Lots of bleach and paint were used to cover the blood shed by their tortured prey. They even poured bleach down the drains,” Kelly said.  Still, the investigators were able to find significant amounts of evidence, including blood and human hair.  “They could clean,” said Commissioner Kelly, “but they couldn’t hide.”

October 9, 2010 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, Bronx, Gang violence, gay men, gay teens, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Kidnapping and sexual assault, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, rape, Slurs and epithets, Torture and Mutilation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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