Prosecutors add hate crimes charge in beating of gay man

Posted on 20 Dec 2007 at 11:28am
By Associated Press

FARMINGTON, N.M. The beating of a man in Farmington in September is being prosecuted as a hate crime.

The district attorney’s office filed notices in cases against Scott Thompson, 21, of Aztec; Jerry Paul, 40, of Shiprock; and Craig Yazzie, 37, of Dennehotso, Ariz., that it will seek a hate crime sentencing enhancement on charges initially filed in October. That could mean an additional year of prison time for each felony conviction.

“It was a gay-bashing kind of deal that’s the way it reads to me,” Deputy District Attorney Brent Capshaw said.

Attorneys for the three men said the hate crime enhancement is unwarranted.

Matthew Shetima told police he was walking through an alley Sept. 22 when several men attacked and hit him, yelling derogatory comments. When he fell, they began kicking him, yelling, “You want to die, faggot?” according to the police report.

Shetima said the men pulled him into a hotel room and continued to punch and kick him until he escaped.

Paul and Yazzie were charged with kidnapping and felony aggravated battery. Thompson is charged with kidnapping and misdemeanor aggravated battery.

Their attorneys contended the district attorney is using the hate crimes prosecution to sensationalize the case, and said the enhancement is unwarranted because the men did not go searching for a homosexual to attack.

“Here you don’t have this active aggression of young men looking to beat up a homosexual,” said Thompson’s attorney, Cosme Ripol.

“You have a homosexual continually advertising his homosexuality, and he’s coming around these guys and wanting to cry and share his pain and anguish over a failed relationship, over booze,” he said. “That scenario doesn’t meet the standard the New Mexico Legislature intended when it passed the hate crimes statute.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 21, 2007.

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