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|LGBT activists ask judge for no more jail time for Brandon White's anti-gay attackers|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|July 12, 2012 09:57|
A group of Atlanta LGBTQ activists wrote a letter to Fulton Superior Court Judge Jackson Bedford asking a light sentence be imposed on two young men who pleaded guilty to the Feb. 4 beating of gay man Brandon White, the GA Voice has learned.
According to the letter, the activists believe the attack was motivated by homophobia, but they do not think it will be helped by the attackers serving further time in prison.
A hearing in the case is underway now at the Fulton County Court House, with several of the activists present. Please check back for updates throughout the day.
The two young men, Dorian Moragne (pictured bottom), 19, and Darael Demare Williams (pictured top), 17, could face more than 50 years in prison after pleading guilty in May to charges of belonging to a street gang, robbery by force and two counts of aggravated assault.
One of Moragne's attorneys, Katie Hingerty, confirmed at the courthouse prior to the start of the hearing that the letter was submitted to the judge and her client is receiving support from LGBT activists.
White, 20, was attacked by a gang of four men in the Pittsburgh community after leaving a convenience store. His attackers repeatedly shouted, "No faggots in Jack City!"
A video of the beating was uploaded to a hip hop website, went viral and the story made national headlines.
Others charged in the attack are Christopher Cain, 18, and Javaris Bradford. Both face the same charges as Moragne and Williams. Bradford has not been brought into police custody and a bench warrant is out for his arrest. Cain remains in Fulton County jail after being denied bond in April.
Atlanta and federal authorities have said they are investigating this beating as a possible federal hate crime. Moragne's defense attorney Jay Abt told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he was told his client would be facing federal charges.
A version of the letter from the Atlanta LGBT activists on behalf of Moragne and Williams, dated July 9, asks that the men not be given any additional jail time beyond what they have already served.
"Our primary interest is seeing an end to the homophobia that seems to have been a dominant factor in the attack on Mr. White. We do not believe that this will be accomplished by a long sentence of imprisonment," the letter states.
The full letter:
The Honorable Judge T. Jackson Bedford
Paulina Hernandez & Caitlin Breedlove, Co-directors, Southerners on New Ground
Holiday Simmons, Atlanta
UPDATE: Brandon White testified this afternoon and said that no one listed in the letter had contacted him prior to today's trial. White added during testimony that he does not believe that his attackers should be shown leniency.
Christopher Cain, another alleged attacker, entered guilty pleas to charges of being in a gang, two counts of aggrevated assault and one count of robbery by force. He is also part of the sentencing hearing taking place with Moragne and Williams.
CLARIFICATION: From Lambda Legal's director of Education and Public Affairs: "Holiday Simmons signed this letter in his individual capacity and the letter does not represent the position of Lambda Legal. Holiday was not aware that his organizational affiliation would appear in the letter and did not approve having it listed."
Kung Li, who wrote the letter, accepted responsibility for mistakenly including Simmons' job title in the letter.
Check back for more information.
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