A Michigan man has pleaded guilty to a brutal attack on a gas station customer he believed was gay.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Everett Dwayne Avery, 36, admitted he struck the victim in the face, fracturing his eye socket, at a Detroit BP franchise in March 2011.
The victim, identified by Gay Star News as Justin Alesna, had apparently been standing in line behind Avery. Worrying that the victim was standing too close, Avery reportedly hurled a range of anti-gay slurs before attacking Alesna.
Avery is due to be sentenced Nov. 28 and under a plea bargain, will reportedly spend between 12 to 18 months in prison and face a fine of up to $20,000.
Avery's case makes him the second person to have been prosecuted under Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2009, the Wisconsin Gazette points out. Earlier this year, David Jason Jenkins, 37, of Cumberland and Anthony Ray Jenkins were indicted by a federal grand jury in Kentucky for kidnapping and assaulting Kevin Pennington, a local gay man.
"A hate crime is different than a simple assault because it is an attack on not just one individual victim, but an attack on everyone who shares a particular characteristic," U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade told the Free Press. “By passing this statute, Congress made it clear that an attack based on a victim’s sexual orientation will not be tolerated in America."
"Hate-fueled incidents have no place in a civilized society," Thomas E Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, said in a statement.