DC man sentenced to 180 days for beating that led to gay man’s death
A Washington DC man who assaulted a gay man who later died from his injuries has been jailed for 180 days.
Tony Randolph Hunter died several days after being punched in the head by Robert Hannah, 19. The incident happened on September 10th 2008.
As Hunter fell, he hit his head on the pavement, causing a fatal brain injury.
The victim and a friend were on their way to a local gay bar, something which gay activists have said could have been a motive for the attack. The friend with Hunter at the time said the attack had been unprovoked.
Last month, Hannah pleaded guilty to one charge of misdemeanor assault as part of a plea bargain offered by prosecutors. In exchange for the guilty plea, a charge of shoplifting against him was dropped. He has already served two months in prison.
The sentence of 180 days is the highest that can be given for a misdemeanor assault conviction.
Hannah claimed Hunter had tried to come on to him and touched his groin and buttocks, which he said led to the assault. Hunter’s friend said he did not see the victim touch Hannah.
The defendant was with two other men at the time, one of whom backed up his statement, while the other said he had not seen the alleged sexual touching.
Gay groups have claimed Hannah used the gay panic defence and this was believed by the jury. They have also questioned why Hannah’s witness seem to be believed over Hunter’s friend and why the charge had been reduced.
Police and the US attorney’s office said last autumn that there was enough evidence to bring a manslaughter charge against Hannah.
However, a grand jury dismissed that charge and instead indicted Hannah on the assault charge, saying that Hunter’s friend had given conflicting evidence and was an unreliable witness.
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