Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Brandon White beating to become a Federal case

Posted By on Tue, May 29, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Attorney Jay Abt at the February press conference
  • Joeff Davis
  • Attorney Jay Abt at the February press conference

At a press conference back in February, attorney Jay Abt expressed great confidence that his client Dorian Moragne wouldn't be charged with committing a Federal hate crime for his role in the brutal beating of Brandon White outside a convenience store in Atlanta's Pittsburgh neighborhood. Video three suspects carrying out the attack - replete with homosexual slurs - was subsequently posted on the Internet. At the time Abt said, "Dorian did not utter any epithets or slurs or say anything to indicate that this would be a Federal hate crime." He added, "If, in fact, he's in the video."

Alas, it appears Abt's confidence was unjustified. In court today, Moragne and the other suspects another of the suspects - Dareal Williams - reached deals and pleaded guilty today to aggravated assault and participating in gang activity. And Abt says he's been informed that the U.S. Attorney's office will pursue Federal hate crimes charges against the men.

The GA Voice's Dyana Bagby was in the courtroom for the hearing this morning (sorry, I was on an airplane); here's what she observed:

During the hearing today before Fulton Superior Court Judge Bedford Jackson, Assistant District Attorney J. Gabriel Banks said the assault was instigated by another suspect, Christopher Cain, who alleged that the victim, White, 20, made a sexual advance toward him. Another suspect, Javaris Williams, was also allegedly involved in the attack that was videotaped and uploaded to a hip hop website.

"If this case were to go to trial the court would prove that the victim was walking to 'The Pink Store' with a friends to get something to eat. They passed these defendants [Moragne and Williams] and the codefendants. At some point ... Mr. Cain believed Mr. white made a sexual advance against him. Mr. white has firmly said no he did not," Banks said.

"The sexual advance toward Cain led to Cain being offended. Cain got upset as Mr. White exited the store and struck him from behind. These two defendants [Moragne and Williams] began to hit stomp and kick Mr. White," Banks added.

"It is important to note that was all being videotaped as they all said, 'No faggots in Jack City," Banks said. "Clearly in the state's view this is a hate crime."

The U.S. Attorney's Office hasn't confirmed its intentions to prosecute the men under the Matthew Shepherd Act, but Abt told the AJC, They flew a lawyer down here personally to inform us."

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