A man who threw boiling water over a sleeping gay couple could face 80 years in jail.
Georgia couple Anthony Gooden, 23, and Marquez Tolbert, 21 were left with horrific burns after the incident on February 12.
48-year-old Martin Luther Blackwell – who was dating Mr Gooden’s mother – allegedly threw boiling water over the pair while they were sleeping because of their sexuality.
Mr Tolbert was hospitalised for ten days after the attack, while Mr Gooden was only released from hospital five weeks later. Both were left with horrific burns over their bodies and have suffered immense pain.
Blackwell was indicted on Friday over the incident – and is facing eight counts of aggravated battery and two counts of aggravated assault.
He allegedly poured the scalding water on the pair’s faces, necks, backs and upper torsos.
According to Fulton District Attorney Paul Howard, Blackwell faces up to 80 years in prison for the attack.
Georgia’s hate crime laws do not protect gay people – but the FBI is considering bringing hate charges on a federal level, which means Blackwell could face still face a hate crime conviction despite the lack of state protections.
Stephen Emmett, spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Atlanta office, confirmed previously that the FBI “has initiated a federal civil rights-based investigation to determine whether the federal hate crime statute will apply”.
Mr Tolbert said previously: “We woke up to boiling hot water. I started screaming uncontrollably and I was pulled out of the house. We ran to the neighbours and called the police.”
“We were just burning. My body was just stinging. It was like a really, really severe kind of stinging.
He added: “The pain,… you can’t sleep at night.”
“The pain doesn’t let you sleep… It’s excruciating, 24 hours a day. It doesn’t go anywhere, it doesn’t dial down. It’s just there.”
“It’s a shame that our society places that kind of fear in a parent’s heart,” said Tolbert’s mother Jaya of the attack.
“It gives you a feeling of helplessness, and when it actually occurs, you lose hope.”