In a signed, handwritten statement he provided to police following his arrest, Bobby Jack Singleton admitted his role in the 2008 beating of Jimmy Lee Dean in Oak Lawn.
“Me and Jonathan Gunter went out to go rob somebody because we were low on money,” Singleton wrote in the statement, adding that the pair first “snuck a gun” from his cousin’s house, where he lived at the time.
“I hit the guy [Dean] and kicked him a couple times as I dug in his pockets,” Singleton wrote. “I did kick and hit the guy but he [Gunter] was the one who pulled out the pistol and put it in the guy’s face. … We went to that area of town because we figured that they would be easier targets because their (SIC) are a lot of homosexuals around the area.”
After Singleton’s attorney unsuccessfully tried to bar it, prosecutors presented the statement to a jury on Tuesday morning, Aug. 25, on the first day of his aggravated robbery trial in Dallas County’s 194th District Court. The trial is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Singleton, 30, of Garland, faces five to 99 years in prison if convicted in Dean’s beating, which was classified by police as an anti-gay hate crime. Gunter, 33, also of Garland, was convicted of aggravated robbery in March and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
In addition to the detective who obtained Singleton’s statement, the jury heard Tuesday from Dean, eyewitness Michael Robinson, two Caven Enterprises security guards who initially apprehended Singleton and Gunter, and three Dallas police officers who responded to the crime.
Robinson testified that he and Dean were walking near Dickason Avenue and Throckmorton Street, a block from the Cedar Springs strip, when Singleton and Gunter came up behind them. A verbal altercation ensued, with Singleton and Gunter yelling anti-gay epithets.
Sensing that the situation might escalate, Robinson ran to his apartment about a block away and retrieved a knife. By the time he returned, Dean was laying motionless and belly-up in the middle of Dickason Avenue, with Singleton stomping his head, Robinson testified.
Three loud thuds reverberated through the courtroom Tuesday as Robinson stood up from the witness stand and stomped the floor to demonstrate what he saw Singleton doing.
“There’s not a day that’s go by that I think I wish I would have never left,” Robinson told the jury. “His face was crushed in. Blood was coming from his ears and his mouth. He was gasping for air. I just felt like I knew this guy was going to die right there in the street. I’ll never forget it. It completely altered my life, that night.”
Dean, 43, who was hospitalized for 10 days after the attack, testified that it began with Gunter sucker-punching him and knocking him out. Dean said he briefly regained consciousness while he was laying in the street and recalls looking up at Singleton.
“I looked up and looked Bobby Singleton in the face, and he kicked me in the face,” Dean said. Asked by prosecutor Marshall McCallum how hard Singleton kicked him, Dean said, “I would describe it as a football punt.”
Dean also testified in detail about the injuries he sustained. He told the jury his entire face has been “meshed together” by doctors, and that the roof of his mouth is “made of metal.” Dean suffered a broken nose and jaw in the attack. He said he still hasn’t regained his sense of smell, and that surgeries have been unsuccessful in repairing his badly damaged right eye.
After Dean testified, he remained in the courtroom to hear other witnesses. But he got up and walked out before prosecutors showed the jury photographs of him in the emergency room on an overhead projector. Dean’s roommate of 11 years, Thomas Bergh, began sobbing and also walked out of the courtroom when prosecutors showed the photographs.
About 10 people from the LGBT community attended portions of the trial Tuesday. One activist, Laura McFerrin, said she was “pissed off” that more didn’t show up. McFerrin and others have urged people to attend the trial to support Dean and to show that anti-gay violence won’t be tolerated.