Woman pleads guilty in case of videotaped beating of trans woman at McDonald’s

Teona Brown, 19, has pled guilty Thursday, Aug. 4, to first degree assault charges and a hate crime charge in connection with the beating of transgender woman Chrissy Polis last April in Towson,

Chrissy Polis

Md. The attack was captured on video by a McDonald’s employee — who filmed the assault rather than step in and try to stop it — last April. The video went viral online and was used, along with new footage from a surveillance camera, in court hearings this week. CBS Baltimore has this report on the plea.

Conviction on a first degree assault charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years, and a hate crime conviction could add another 10 years. Because Brown pled guilty to the attack, prosecutors are recommending that the judge sentence her to five years in prison. A sentencing hearing has been set for next month.

Polis was present in court on Thursday, but told reporters she was nervous about being there and had no comment. “I just want to lay low and keep my life as normal as possible,” she said.

A second person charged in the attack was 14 at the time and has been charged with assault as a juvenile. Because she is a minor, her identity has not been released.

Below is a video of a news report aired on the Washington, D.C., Fox news program when the attack happened. It includes video of the attack and, as State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said this week, “The severity of the beating is much easier to understand when you see a video. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. Well, a video’s worth a million.”

—  admin

Neil Patrick Harris to return as Tony Awards host

Neil Patrick Harris is known to most of his fans as the womanizing Barney on the unwatchable How I Met Your Mother sitcom, but to many others, he’s the openly gay song-and-dance man who turned coming out into a career renaissance. Last year, he did an excellent, camped up job as the host of the Tony Awards, and he’ll be back again this year.

In addition to Harris, scheduled presenters and performers, announced today, include Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe (currently on Broadway in the revival of How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying), Oscar winner and Broadway producer Whoopi Goldberg, gay Tony winner David Hyde Pierce and his TV brother, Kelsey Grammer, who recently left the musical La Cage aux Folles, gay Emmy winner (The Big Bang Theory) Jim Parsons, currently in his Broadway debut of the AIDS play The Normal Heart, co-directed by  Oscar winner and fellow presenter Joel Grey.

The Tonys air on CBS June 12.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: “48 Hours Mystery” on Lisa Stone case

In case you missed it, below is the full episode of 48 Hours Mystery about the Lisa Stone case that aired Saturday night. Stone’s friends, aka “The Facebook Detectives,” are also slated to appear on CBS’ The Early Show on Monday.

—  John Wright

Nearly 1 year after lesbian Lisa Stone vanished, case to be featured on CBS’ “48 Hours Mystery”

Sherry Henry

Thursday will mark 11 months since Dallas lesbian Lisa Stone’s unsolved disappearance. On Saturday at 9 p.m. Central time, CBS’ 48 Hours Mystery will air an hourlong episode about the case.

The 48 Hours episode, called “The Facebook Detectives,” will focus on Stone’s friends use of the social media site to keep the search for her alive. Watch a promo for the episode below.

The episode also includes an interview with Stone’s former partner, Sherry Henry, who is the only “person of interest” in her disappearance. Dallas police have long believed the then-52-year-old Stone met with foul play, but say they don’t have enough evidence to make an arrest.

Sgt. Eugene Reyes, of DPD’s special investigations unit, told Instant Tea today that he was surprised to hear about Henry’s interview with 48 Hours, given that she hasn’t been talking to other media or cooperating with police.

“We have nothing new, and some of the DNA tests that we were waiting for just didn’t pan out, so we’re back to square one with only one person of interest,” Reyes said. “Everything’s circumstantial. There are plenty of pointed fingers, but it’s not going to be enough to get a conviction. … Some of these cases go on forever and ever.”

Reyes said he hopes the 48 Hours episode leads to a break in the case, but he isn’t counting on it. The show’s producers have told him not to expect any major revelations, and he noted that a billboard advertising a $10,000 reward for information about Stone’s disappearance generated zero tips.

But Stone’s friends remain optimistic.

“We will find answers and justice for Lisa soon!” Tina Wiley declared on her Facebook page today, after announcing that she’s canceled her birthday plans so she can fly to New York this weekend.

Wiley said after the 48 Hours broadcast, she’ll appear on CBS’ Early Show this coming Monday. But first, Wiley will appear on the the Channel 11 News, at 10 o’clock tonight.

—  John Wright

In Dallas, Scott Pelley ‘pressed the establishment on issues affecting gay men and AIDS’

Scott Pelley

The announcement that former Dallasite Scott Pelley will replace Katie Couric as anchor of the CBS Evening News is a good thing for the LGBT community, according to pioneering gay activist William Waybourn.

Pelley, a San Antonio native and Texas Tech graduate, spent 11 years in Dallas at KXAS-TV and WFAA-TV from 1978-1989, according to Wikipedia.

Waybourn, the former president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance who now lives in Virginia, had this to say about Pelley in an email to Instant Tea this afternoon:

“Scott Pelley was one of those reporters in Dallas who pressed the establishment on issues affecting lesbians and gay men and AIDS,” Waybourn said. “He interviewed me, Bill [Nelson] or John [Thomas] on a regular basis, always pushing questions that brought attention to our issues of the day.”

—  John Wright

Mo Rocca at the Eisemann Center

Wait, Wait! Don’t tell me!

You know that man on CBS Sunday Morning who’s really funny and kind of nerdy? That panelist with the nasally voice on NPR’s Wait, Wait! Don’t Tell Me quiz show. The guy you can’t quite describe other than from the kinda geeky-gay vibe he puts out, but in the nicest way. That’s Mo Rocca. Read full story here.


—  John Wright

Odessa gets a PFLAG chapter — plus, some tips for dealing with family over the holidays

Odessa is the latest Texas city to get a chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Gays and Lesbians.

According to the PFLAG website, the Odessa chapter is one of about 17 in Texas and 500 nationwide.

CBS 7 reports:

“My daughter told me at the age of 37 that she was gay,” says Shari Johnson.

And Johnson didn’t take the news lightly.

“I fell apart, went to pieces, thought it was the end of the world … begged God to change her … and in the process he changed me,” she claims.

She was changed through PFLAG.

“All of the people involved helped me understand that this wasn’t a tragedy. Found out I was lacking in the love department…and that’s the most important thing.”

That’s why she started a chapter here in her hometown of Odessa.

Also, as we perused the PFLAG site, we couldn’t help but notice these “Tips for a Happy Holiday for GLBT People.” If you plan to come out to family during the holidays or bring your partner home for a visit, they’re probably worth a look. For example:

• If you bring your partner home, don’t wait until late into the holiday evening to raise the issue of sleeping arrangements. Make plans in advance.

—  John Wright

Nearly 6 months after gay Dallas woman Lisa Stone vanished, some national media attention

Dec. 5 will mark six months since the disappearance of Lisa Stone, a 52-year-old gay woman from northeast Dallas. But Stone’s friends remain optimistic that the case will soon be solved, and their hopes have been buoyed this week by some national media attention.

America’s Most Wanted posted a story about Stone’s disappearance on its website Monday, and her friends plan to meet with producers from CBS’ 48 Hours on Wednesday.

“We have worked for five months to get this kind of national exposure,” said Tina Wiley, one of Stone’s friends who’s been leading the effort to find her. “We need this to get answers.”

Wiley said Stone’s friends are also hearing rumors that arrests in the case may be imminent. A Dallas police investigator who’s handling the case couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Wiley said nothing is planned to mark the six-month anniversary of Stone’s disappearance. However, the group known as the Sisters of ’77 — Stone’s friends who graduated from Mesquite High School in 1977 — plans another reunion on Dec. 11. It was during the first-ever reunion of the Sisters of ’77 in May 2009, WIley said, when Stone came out to many of her former classmates.

“It was a huge deal to her, so I think it’s going to be a really emotional party,” Wiley said. “She was real hesitant at first about going even. She was so worried about what everyone would think, but she was very pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t an issue to anybody.”

—  John Wright

Gay University Park dad rejected by Boy Scouts says he’ll appear on local newscasts tonight

Jon Langbert, the gay father who’s been told he can’t be a leader in his 9-year-old son’s Cub Scout troop in University Park, reports that his story will be on three local TV news broadcasts tonight.

“Watch Fox (KDFW-4) at 9 and ABC (WFAA-8) and CBS (KTVT/KTXA-21) news at 10. I hope the reporters ask the Boy Scouts what they want me to tell Carter when he asks why they’re saying his father is a bad role model and must stop wearing the scout shirt they gave him,” Langbert said.

—  John Wright

NBC’s Texas-filmed ‘Chase’ premieres

The new Jerry Bruckheimer show “Chase” premiered on Monday and it’s not just “CSI Dallas.” Unlike other procedurals, this one lets you know right away who did it and the story’s about the chase (around Dallas and across Texas) to catch the perp.

The preview above includes a helicopter chase filmed earlier this summer that followed a route down McKinney Avenue and right over the Instant Tea Brewery.

The show is filmed primarily in Dallas, but the pilot that aired Monday was filmed around the state. The show opened in the Stockyards in Fort Worth. They checked out some witnesses in Houston and the final scene was filmed on a bridge over the Rio Grande (at least I think it was — anyone know?)

The networks have had lots of luck with Dallas-based shows. “Dallas” and “Walker, Texas Ranger” each lasted more than a decade. And Bruckheimer currently has five hits on CBS — three “CSIs,” “Cold Case” and “Amazing Race.”

This one looks like a hit for NBC (Mondays at 9, or available on Hulu).

And a successful show filmed in Dallas means lots of jobs and lots of publicity for the city. And acting jobs means lots of work for the city’s many gay actors. Any of our readers work this show yet? Let us know.

—  David Taffet