UPDATE: 3rd arrest in gay man’s beating

Burke Burnett

A third suspect has been arrested in the brutal beating of a gay man last weekend in Reno, Texas.

Micky Joe Smith, 25, is expected to face the same charges as the other two suspects — aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury. The charges are second-degree felonies, punishable by up 20 years in prison, and not first-degree felonies as previously reported.

Daniel Martin, 33, and James “Tray” Mitchell Laster III, 31, were arrested late Tuesday in the beating of 26-year-old Burke Burnett. Burnett was stabbed at least twice with a broken beer bottle and thrown onto a fire at a private party early Sunday, by up to four men who yelled gay slurs during the attack.

Martin and Laster are each being held on $250,000 bond, according to the Lamar County Sheriff’s Department. No bond amount had been set for Smith, who was taken into custody today.

Lamar County District Attorney Gary Young, whose office is handling the cases, said it will be up to a grand jury to decide whether they are prosecuted as hate crimes. Under Texas law, a hate crime enhancement could result in the charges being bumped up from second-degree felonies to first-degree felonies — punishable by five to 99 years in prison.

“We’re in the process of receiving all the information as a result of the investigation,” Young said. “We will present all that information to the grand jury, including all the information as to whether it’s a hate crime or not. The grand jury will make a determination whether it [a hate crime] is or isn’t part of the charge. If their actions of committing the aggravated assault are based on race or sexual orientation or whatever it may be, the grand jury can choose to enhance the offense up a level.”

Young declined to further discuss the cases.

Burnett couldn’t immediately be reached, but his friend Chivas Clem said they were relieved at the arrests. Clem previously said he felt authorities may try to brush the crime under the rug.

“The fact that they’re taking it seriously is important and shows good faith on their part that they’re treating gays and lesbians as a legitimate minority,” Clem said.

—  John Wright

UPDATE: Suspect arrested in D.C. shooting

Police in Washington, D.C., have charged Darryl Willard with “assault with intent to kill while armed,” in connection with the shooting early Monday of a transgender woman in southeast D.C.

Washington, D.C. police are investigating the death of this unidentified person who was found wearing facial make-up and carrying a pair of light-colored heels

According to the Washington Post, after being shot at about 1:50 a.m. in the 2300 block of Savannah Street SE, the victim walked to the Seventh District Police Headquarters to report the crime. The Post reports that the victim knew her attacker and gave his name to police. Willard later turned himself in to authorities.

The victim, who is not named in the newspaper’s article, was taken to the hospital and is expected to recover from her injuries.

In the meantime, police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a man whose body was found early Saturday, according to reports by the Associated Press. Police said that when the man’s body was found, he had makeup on his face and had with him a pair of light-colored high-heel shoes. The man appears to be Hispanic or Middle Eastern and between the ages of 25 and 30.

Police said they have no information on whether the dead man was gay or transgender, and that his body showed no signs of trauma.

The Monday shooting was the fourth time in less than two months that a transgender woman has been shot or shot at in the D.C. area. On July 20, Lashai Mclean died after being shot by a man who approached her as she walked with a friend in the city’s Northeast section. The man asked Mclean a question and then pulled a gun and shot her before she could answer, according to the friend, who was uninjured.

Eleven days later and just blocks away from the site of Mclean’s murder, a suspect approached another trans woman, asked for change and then pulled a gun and shot at her before she could answer. The shot missed and the woman was uninjured.

And in August, a D.C. police officer on medical leave was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon after he stood on the hood of a car and fired into the car containing two men and two trans women. One of the men was injured slightly in the attack.

—  admin

What’s Brewing: 3rd El Paso suspect arrested

Ivan Gallardo

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A third suspect has been arrested in a brutal beating outside a gay nightclub in downtown El Paso on May 7. Ivan Gallardo, 17, is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Two other suspects, ages 16 and 19, have also been arrested in connection with the attack outside the Old Plantation, which police say was gang related. The 22-year-old victim, Lionel Martinez, remains in critical condition after suffering a fractured skull and brain swelling. A total of six people reportedly jumped Martinez while he was waiting for a ride, punching him, kicking him and hitting him with a baseball bat. Martinez is straight, but LGBT advocates say it was a hate crime because the suspects were yelling anti-gay slurs, and the FBI is investigating the incident as a possible civil rights violation. Police have increased patrols around the nightclub in the wake of the incident, and an anti-hate crime rally reportedly is planned for next week outside the County Courthouse.

2. Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which calls for the death penalty in some cases, is still alive. The bill is one of three that have been carried over to the new Parliament, which convenes today, after the old Parliament was dissolved without considering them.

3. The Minnesota House is expected to vote today on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The amendment, which would appear on the 2012 ballot, has already cleared the Senate. On Wednesday the House Rules Committee voted 13-12 to approve the amendment. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton opposes the amendment but cannot veto it.

—  John Wright

The Nooner: Chick-fil-A goes anti-gay; Frisco man imprisoned for spreading HIV loses appeal

Your midday news roundup from Instant Tea:

• Frisco man convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for spreading HIV loses appeal.

• Chick-fil-A partners with rabidly anti-gay group in Pennsylvania.

• Poll results suggest LGBT community never lost faith in Obama.

More gay characters on TV shows geared toward teens.

• Justice Scalia says Constitution doesn’t protect women, gays from discrimination.

—  John Wright

Authorities treating HIV as deadly weapon in Central Texas case involving Grindr hookup

Christopher Everett

A 26-year-old Central Texas man is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon — a first-degree felony — for having unprotected sex with a 16-year-old male without disclosing his HIV-positive status, according to News Channel 25.

The suspect, Christopher Everett, met the alleged victim on Grindr, the popular gay hookup app whose name the TV station misspells and puts in quotes (“Grinder”). The story doesn’t say whether the victim contracted HIV from the encounter, which occurred in October:

The affidavit describes how 26-year-old Christopher Everett allegedly met a 16-year-old boy on an adult social networking site called “Grinder.” The two chatted via cell phone and decided they would get together on a Friday night in October.

During an interview with police, the teenaged victim explained how Everett invited him to his home in Copperas Cove. The victim told police how he snuck out of his parent’s house and met Everett just before midnight. The two then rode together to Everett’s home in Copperas Cove.

The victim learned from another Grindr user that Everett is HIV-positive. Everett is being held on $50,000 bond.

—  John Wright

Man in rape case also charged with assault in connection with HIV status

Tumbwe, former minister with Potter’s House, claims sex was consensual; 2 other women say defendant didn’t reveal his status and gave them HIV

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Nathaniel Tumbwe is on trial in Dallas for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The weapon is his penis and his bodily fluids are the bullets because he has AIDS, herpes and genital warts.

According to testimony in Tumbwe’s criminal trial, Tumbwe made repeated advances to Carolyn Hudson, which she refused. In October 2008, she reported to police that he raped her in her house. She said she invited him to her home twice to discuss religion and on that second visit he raped her.

Weeks later she learned he had AIDS.

The defense claimed that Hudson simply regrets having had a relationship with Tumbwe.

Hudson is a receptionist at Potters House, a megachurch in Southwest Dallas. Tumbwe refers to himself as a reverend who was affiliated with the church at the time.

Hudson has tested negative for HIV. Two other women who contracted the virus after unprotected sex with Tumbwe will testify at the punishment phase of the trial if he is convicted.

Ken Upton, staff attorney for Lambda Legal in Dallas, said that calling the penis a weapon is unusual.

He said that Lambda Legal has filed briefs in cases where police charged someone with assault when a person with HIV that was being arrested spit on the officer. Since that is not a method of transmission and spitting is not normally seen as assault, the courts dismissed the charges.

In a 2009 case in Michigan, a man with HIV arrested for assault was also charged with bioterrorism after biting his victim. Lambda Legal filed a brief in the matter.

“This charge leads to public misunderstanding of how HIV is transmitted, contributes to stigmatizing people with HIV and undermines important public health goals,” Lambda Legal attorneys wrote in their brief.
In June 2010, the bioterrorism charge was dismissed.

But Upton warned about having unprotected sex or not revealing one’s HIV status to a sexual partner.

“Knowingly having unprotected, nonconsensual sex puts it in a different category,” Upton said.

He said in Texas it would at least be a good argument for battery.

Why Dallas prosecutors would go for the assault with a deadly weapon charge, however, when rape has severe penalties, Upton said he could only speculate. He thought they might have added the charge in order to get a plea bargain. Once the case went to trail, he suggested it might have been to further bias the jury against the defendant or simply add charges.

Jamille Bradfield is the public information officer for the Dallas County district attorney’s office. She said she could not comment on the case because the trial is ongoing.

The charge has worked in North Texas before.

In 2009, a Frisco man was convicted of six counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon — his bodily fluids — because he was HIV positive. Ten women who seroconverted after having sex with him testified for the prosecution. The sex was apparently consensual. No rape was charged.

That case was the first in which DNA testing showed that the defendant was the source of the infection. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

In March, a Houston man was charged with having unprotected sex with a minor. The charges were upgraded to aggravated sexual assault when police learned that he was aware of his HIV positive status.

Enhancing the charges when HIV is involved is becoming more common according to The Center for HIV Law & Policy. They list about 60 current or recent cases across the country. Charges range from spitting and knowingly spreading infectious disease to assault with intent to kill.

The cases involving sex, rather than spitting or biting, all appear to involve heterosexuals.

The organization calls penalties for crimes involving persons with HIV “draconian,” with up to 25 years in prison even when no transmission occurred.

In the Tumbwe case, there was apparently no infection in the case of the rape victim. Hudson has not tested positive for HIV but is being told that she needs to retest once a year for 10 years.

Bret Camp, associate executive director for health and medical services at Resource Center Dallas, said that was ridiculous and unnecessary.

“Technology has advanced,” Camp said. “HIV RNA testing is now available at Nelson Tebedo Clinic through a partnership with Dallas County. It detects HIV in seven to 10 days after an exposure.”

He said for peace of mind, he’d recommend a follow-up at 60 days, but called even that medically unnecessary. He said he knows of no cases where someone suddenly tested positive years after exposure.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has been following the Tumbwe trial and said the case is of particular interest because of the trust people place in other people involved in their church.

He said that prosecuting crimes involving churches are particularly difficult.

“Often people associated with a church are reluctant to speak up,” Clohessy said. “By cooperating with law enforcement, churchgoers are strengthening their congregations and making them healthier communities.”

And many churches are reluctant to discuss HIV prevention. By going public, Hudson may have helped open the discussion of several topics at the church including HIV testing and revealing status to partners as well as sexual abuse by church elders.

At press time, the trial was still in progress. Tumbwe faces 20 years in prison if convicted.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 16, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas