Jury acquits man charged in hate crime

Posted on 15 Mar 2007 at 8:15pm
By David Webb Staff Writer

Gay victim is “‘saddened, angered’ by verdict, still believes Young is person who attacked him



Chris McKee

A Denton County jury has acquitted a 26-year-old man charged with a hate crime assault on a gay man near the University of North Texas in December 2005.

George Clifton Young was acquitted after only 30 minutes of deliberation by the jury. Representatives of several LGBT groups attended the two-day trial.

Chris McKee, 27, who is a medical caseworker, said the verdict had saddened, angered and scared him.

“I’m sad, but I’m also really mad,” McKee said. “I’ve had my bawling moments I’ll admit it. I have my mad moments. I just feel at a loss.”

McKee said he feels frightened because he still believes that Young was one of the two men who attacked him on Dec. 3, 2005, on Fry Street after he left a tavern. Two men followed him after he kissed another man goodbye and headed for his car, he said.

“I know for a fact that guy was on Fry Street,” McKee said. “I would bet everything I have and then some. I know it was him.”

Although both McKee and a female friend of his testified Young was one of the two assailants who attacked him, the defendant and a friend of his testified they were at another location at the time of the assault. A second suspect was never identified and charged in the alleged hate crime.

McKee said it was obvious the defense had been successful in creating some level of doubt about Young’s guilt.

“It just takes a little bit to throw some doubt into the jurors heads,” McKee said.

Pete Webb, president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, said he also was concerned about the jury reaching a verdict so quickly.

“I was very shocked that they took only 30 minutes to come back with a verdict,” Webb said.

Webb said the prosecutor did not seem to present a very strong case on the first day of the trial, but that she seemed to recover on the second day.

“I was hopeful it would turn out in our favor,” Webb said.

The prosecutor said the defendant’s alibi had hindered her efforts to get a conviction, Webb said. The defendant claimed he spent the night at his friend’s house because they both had to get up early to go to work the next day.

McKee said the defense attorney questioned him on the stand for three hours. He acknowledged being a little uncertain about some details because so much time had passed since the attack.

The defense attorney also portrayed him as someone who had an agenda because he had contacted media outlets and gay rights groups last fall in an effort to press prosecution of Young, McKee said.

Webb said there were some inconsistencies in the testimony, but that he still believed McKee’s story.

“Chris never wavered when I talked to him,” Webb said. “He was always confident and sure of what happened.”

McKee identified Young to police as one of his assailants 10 days after the attack after spotting him on Fry Street and following him home.

The case was originally dismissed by the Denton County District Attorney’s Office on Oct. 21, 2006, two days before the originally scheduled trial. It was dismissed because McKee’s name was misspelled on a court document and had to be refiled.

The district attorney at the time did not want to pursue the case as a hate crime, but District Attorney Paul Johnson, who took office on Jan. 1, announced he planned to try the case as a hate crime.

Webb said he believes if the case had been better investigated at the time the defendant was identified, the result might have been different.

“I’m hoping some good will come out of this, and it will be a wake-up call for better tools, better education and better resources,” Webb said.

McKee said he is concerned about his safety, and he is considering moving out of Denton County.

“I cost the man a lot of money,” McKee said. “I cost him a lot of heartache. He had a lot of his buddies there. People I never knew were associated with him now know me. They know what I look like.”

Webb said McKee should be praised for taking the stand he did.

“I will not let this experience go unnoticed,” Webb said. “I am thankful that Mr. McKee took a stand for equality. It is important for GLBT people to speak out against injustice. It is only in sharing your stories that we can make a change in our society.”

E-mail webb@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 16, 2007

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