Friday, September 18, 2009

Killing a Gay Man in DC Apparently Gets You 180 Days in Jail

I will keep this short and simple. I cannot understand how a person can be killed, and the killer is given a plea deal for simple assault (after originally being charged with manslaughter). Tony Hunter, from P.G. County, MD, was attacked by a group of kids while he was on his way to a Shaw area gay spot here in DC. Hunter died as a result of his injuries from the attack. The killer apparently used the "gay panic" defense, and the prosecution seems to have bought it hook, line and sinker. Hunter's killer accepted a plea deal for simple assault, and he is out on bond on his own recognizance. The maximum sentence in this case: 180 days.

I am gobsmacked at how a miscarriage of justice of this magnitude could happen. 180 days for killing a gay man in the District of Columbia. That makes no damn sense.

UPDATE (10.16.09): Having read more reports, I better understand how something like this sentence could happen, and I think one of the comments suggested how it could work. It looks like it was determined that the victim died from the injuries he sustained from hitting his head on the ground, not directly from the hit from the defendant, which apparently changes the legal outcome, as we know. I need my attorney friends to help out here.


Ken said...

I do not believe in this type of violence whether you agree or disagree. This man deserves harsh punishment.

Anonymous said...

What is the "gay panic" defense?

hscfree said...

@Anon: The gay panic defense is one where a person justifies taking action against a gay person because the gay person allegedly hit on the person making that defense. A number of murderers of gay men have claimed unwanted advances to justify their crimes.

Scott said...

Is it cynical of me to suspect that the majority of people who consider themselves strong on "law and order" and want to "get tougher" on crime would have no problem with the beating to death of a gay man being considered a simple, probably justifiable assault?

"Hey, the guy came on to me so what else could I do but beat him to death??"

Or possibly the killer had just eaten some Twinkies...?
(For any of your readers who may not get that reference, Google "Dan White")

hscfree said...

@Scott: I still cannot believe that the "Twinkie" defense succeeded.

Clancy said...

Blame the press for the "Twinkie Defense," as White actually used diminished capacity to explain his actions (well, I guess his lawyers used it). I believe they actually argued that his consumption of junk food was a symptom of his supposed illness--as White had been a health fanatic--rather than as the cause. Although, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me either.

Still, it's completely astounding that one can be responsible for the death of another, no matter what the circumstances, and would only receive a 180 day sentence.

Anonymous said...

It's a pity women can't use the Straight Woman Defense. That jackass was hitting on me in a bar so I beat him to death. Or what about lesbians using the Lesbian Woman Defense. That jacksass was hitting on me as I was walking home so I beat him to death.

I'm also looking forward to the Ugly Woman Defense. That ugly woman was hitting on me so I beat her to death.

*eyes rolling*

I am baffled and appalled that this defense still works!


Anonymous said...

Jeffrey—I had not heard of this case. Reading the two articles that you linked to, it appears that there is a factual dispute in the case. The defendant (Hannah), and some witnesses, indicate that Hunter sexually assaulted Hannah prior to him hitting Hunter. Others deny this. Also, the article indicates that Hannah did not beat him to death, but hit him a few times before Hunter fell and died from his head hitting the sidewalk. None of this is to say that he shouldn't have gone to trial or been charged with manslaughter, but the facts are important here.

Anonymous said...

I'll let the lawyers jump in, but 180 days does not seem to be unprecedented if there is no intent to kill and/or if the defendant was provoked. If you get into a pushing match on the basketball court with someone and they get pushed into a metal pole by accident, I have read about the defendant in that situation getting a short, or even suspended, sentence. Or if the victim has some medical condition and dies where a healthy person would not might be a situation where a person gets a lighter sentence.

Did the defendant have the intent to kill, was he provoked, how would a reasonable man in a similar situation react? These are the questions the prosecutor has to consider.

hscfree said...

So does the plea bargain indicate potential difficulty for getting a prosecution?