Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Three sentenced in Piedmont Park attack

Posted By on Wed, Oct 26, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Pastor Josh Noblitt addressed his attackers in court yesterday
  • Joeff Davis
  • Pastor Josh Noblitt addressed his attackers in court yesterday
Local pastor Josh Noblitt emerged from the experience of being attacked in Piedmont Park wanting to connect with his attackers.

He told CL last year, "I would love for an opportunity to be able to sit down with each of these kids, maybe even their families, and just hear their story and introduce myself to them and kind of do that exchange."

Yesterday, in a Fulton County courtroom, Noblitt had an opportunity to address three of his attackers, 21-year-old Jarvis Johnson, 19-year-old Sam Johnson and 17-year-old Benjamin Johnson.

All three pled guilty and were sentenced on reduced charges.

In early July 2010, Noblitt — subject of the CL cover story "Victim of Hate" — was picnicking in Piedmont Park with friend Trent Williams when three young men approached them, asked if they were gay and picked a fight. Noblitt was punched in the head and kicked in the ribs. One of the men wielded a stick. Three more young men joined in; one of them held Noblitt at gunpoint and robbed him.

The incident was classified as a bias crime by the Atlanta Police Department because it appeared the boys had attacked Noblitt and Williams mostly because they're gay.

The GA Voice was in the courtroom yesterday, and said the three Johnsons "expressed remorse" for the attack. Here's their summary of the sentences handed down by Judge Alford Dempsey:

• Benjamin Johnson, who has been out on bond and under house arrest after serving a couple months in youth detention, was sentenced to five years but instead of serving time in prison, he will be under intensive probation.

• Sam Johnson, Benjamin's older brother, who has been in jail since the day of the attack, was sentenced to five years to serve 15 months with time served and was to be released later Tuesday.

• Jarvis Johnson, a cousin of the two other men, has also been in jail since July 2, 2010. He was sentenced to seven years to serve two years with time served, leaving nine months to serve.

Cases against three more of Noblitt's attackers — Jamal Bryant, Daequan Lewis and Tyrone Smith, ages 13, 15 and 16 at the time of the attack — are still pending.

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