An Atlanta man who poured boiling water over a sleeping gay couple may be charged under federal hate crime legislation following the involvement of the FBI in the case.
Martin Blackwell, who poured a pot of boiling water over his girlfriend’s son and his partner as they slept, telling them to “get out of my house with all that gay”, currently stands charged with two counts of aggravated assault.
The attack occurred when Marquez Tolbert stayed over at boyfriend Anthony Gooden’s house after working late. Then men awoke after Blackwell, Gooden’s mother’s boyfriend, poured boiling water over them.
Tolbert had to receive multiple skin grafts, and spent 10 days in hospital recovering from the attack. Both men say that the attack was completely unprovoked, and that they had “no idea of the hatred he held in [Blackwell’s] heart.”
“The pain doesn’t let you sleep,” Tolbert said. “It’s just, like, it’s excruciating, 24 hours a day, and it doesn’t go anywhere.It doesn’t dial down, anything. It’s just there.”
According to the police report, Blackwell said he was disgusted by the gay relationship, telling police, “They’ll be all right. It was just a little hot water on them.” He was charged with two counts of aggravated battery, and is currently in the Fulton County Jail.
However, as Georgia does not recognise any anti-gay hate crime legislation it was thought additional charges could not be applied, despite an obvious homophobic element to the attack. With the involvement of the FBI in the case, Blackwell could be prosecuted under federal hate crimes law, reports The Advocate.
In 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, giving the federal government an unprecedented ability to crack down on crimes motivated by anti-gay prejudice and expanding existing United States federal hate crime law to apply to crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, and dropping the prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a federally protected activity.
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