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|Third defendant in Atlanta anti-gay assault postpones plea|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|June 11, 2012 14:50|
Christopher Cain was on the court's calendar to appear today before Fulton Superior Court Judge Bedford Jackson in a plea or pre-trial hearing, but the hearing was postponed.
The date fur the future hearing date has not yet been determined.
Cain, 18, is charged with three other men in the assault of Brandon White, 20, who is openly gay, on Feb. 4 as White left a grocery store known as the "Pink Store" in the Pittsburgh community.
The attack, in which the men shouted "No faggots in Jack City" repeatedly as they pummeled White was videotaped and uploaded to a hip hop website where it went viral. While the state cannot prosecute the attack as a hate crime because Georgia has no hate crime law, prosecutors have repeatedly referred to it as a hate crime.
Apparently a plea deal could not be figured out during private discussions today with prosecutors and Cain's defense attorney.
"We're further noticing it to another court date. Nothing happened. We're not ready to do anything today," said Cain's attorney Jennifer Yoxall.
More than a dozen members of Cain's family and friends were in court today but all declined an interview request.
Two other co-defendants in the case, Dorian Moragne and Darael Williams, pleaded guilty May 29 to charges of participating in a criminal street gang, robbery by force, and two counts of aggravated assault. The men could be sentenced up to 20 years each on the robbery by force and aggravated assault charges and a maximum of 15 years on the gang-related charge.
A sentencing for the men is expected by July 16.
Cain faces the same charges as Moragne and Williams.
Another defendant, Javaris Bradford, also faces the same charges but is still not in police custody. A bench warrant has been issued for him.
It was at Moragne's and Williams' hearing on May 29 that prosecutor J. Gabriel Banks presented what the defense claimed — that Cain alleged White made a pass at him while walking to the Pink Store.
Because of that alleged sexual advance, Cain and the others said they reacted with violence and brutally attacked White while also calling him "faggot."
"It is important to note that was all being videotaped as they all said, 'No faggots in Jack City,” Banks said at the May 29 plea. “Clearly in the state's view this is a hate crime.”
At the onset of the case, Moragne's defense attorney, Jay Abt, went on TV to say White knew his attackers and was planning on exposing them for being gay.
Abt and Moragne's mother also met with gay activists — with TV cameras rolling — who first supported White but then backed off because they believed White knew his attackers and was threatening to expose them as gay. This was the defense Abt came out with shortly after his client was arrested and it brought division within some in the LGBT community.
White has repeatedly denied knowing his attackers and denied making a pass at Cain.
Abt also made it abundantly clear when his client was arrested that it was not a hate crime. On May 29, when his client was pleading guilty to state charges, Abt told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he was informed his client would be facing federal hate crime charges.
The FBI and U.S. Attorney's General Office are investigating determine if the attack fits the criteria for a federal hate crime. The FBI has stated no federal indictments can be made until after the Fulton DA's Office is finished with its cases against the defendants.
Openly gay attorney Christine Koehler, who has acted as an advocate for Brandon White as his case goes through the court system, said she is flummoxed by what defense attorney Abt is saying now versus what he was saying shortly after his client was arrested.
"Brandon bravely came forward and was frankly attacked for a second time by people who said he knew his attackers. And we were told to wait, that there would be this major evidence to come out and [White's] cell phone would prove it," she said. The phone has not been recovered.
"Now there's no big reveal and now it's become an, oh, he hit on me defense," Koehler added.
"Brandon completely denies ever hitting on someone. Someone as small as stature as he is would not hit another male on the street, certainly not a gang member," she said. "You don't survive on the streets that way."
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