No jail or fine for Sheridan in graffiti case

sheridanRich Sheridan formally pleaded no contest to charges he spray painted the Legacy of Love monument with “666” and painted graffiti at Cathedral of Hope.
Because of his targets — a public monument and a church — the charges carry a penalty for two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Under the plea agreement, Sheridan will spend no time in jail and won’t pay a fine. Instead, he received deferred community supervision for two years in each of the two cases, served simultaneously. If he violates terms of his probation, he’ll have to pay $2,000 in fines.

“If Rich Sheridan violates the terms of his community supervision he can also be sentenced to confinement,” Assistant District Attorney Craig NeNeil said.

Oak Lawn Committee, which maintains the monument and the triangle where it sits at the corner of Oak Lawn Avenue and Cedar Springs Road spent several thousand dollars cleaning and restoring it.

The Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas of Cathedral of Hope said damage to church property wasn’t expensive to clean.

“We believe in second chances,” Cazares-Thomas said. “If he breaks that second chance, he will have to pay recompense.”

He said for a crime like this, community service would be an appropriate punishment.

In addition to the two charges filed, Sheridan tagged property in front of the Dallas Morning News, D Magazine and Dallas Observer offices. He also painted over Dallas Voice distribution boxes and marked graffiti in the Dallas City Hall underground parking lot. Charges were not filed in those cases.

The district attorney’s office couldn’t comment on the case until formal sentencing on April 15.

Updated with information from Asst. D.A. Craig McNeil on Feb. 29.

—  David Taffet

Richard Sheridan given probation and provide restitution in graffiti cases

Legacy graffiti

2014 graffiti at Legacy of Love monument

Former Dallas City Council candidate Richard Sheridan has been given felony deferred adjudication probation in 2014 graffiti cases that targeted the LGBT community.

Sheridan entered the first half of his plea to graffiti charges on Thursday, Feb. 11. His case was reset for a pre-sentence investigation and evaluation. A restitution hearing will be held on April 15 to determine the amount of restitution to be paid as a condition of probation.

Sheridan was arrested in March 2015 for spray painting “666” on the Legacy of Love monument on the corner of Cedar Springs Road and Oak Lawn Avenue in June 2014. He also was accused of tagging Cathedral of Hope property and sidewalks in front of The Dallas Morning News, D Magazine and The Observer. Dallas Voice distribution boxes were defaced as well. Tagging attributed to Sheridan was later found in Dallas City Hall’s parking garage as well.

According to Assistant Criminal District Attorney Gary McDonald, Sheridan is being placed on felony deferred adjudication probation for a period of two years in each case, as charged.

“This means his plea is to ‘Graffiti of a Monument/Church with the Hate Crime allegation,’ a third degree felony,” McDonald wrote. “He will be fined $1,000.00 in each case, but the fine will be probated because he is indigent.”

Sheridan will be prohibited from contacting either location as a condition of community supervision. As part of the pre-sentence investigation, he will be referred for a mental health/dual diagnosis evaluation to determine appropriate conditions of community supervision in each case.

The amount of restitution to Cathedral of Hope has not yet been determined. The church cleaned the graffiti at its own expense. The Oak Lawn Committee cleaned the monument. Defacing a public monument or a church carries higher penalties than other targets. Hate crime charges can be attached to those as well since they specifically targeted the LGBT community.

—  David Taffet

Convicted gay-bashing killer Jon Buice released on parole

Screen shot 2016-01-22 at 4.34.11 PM

Jon Buice

File this under “Things That Slipped By Us”:

Jon Buice, who pleaded guilty in 1992 to murdering a Houston gay man, was released from prison on Dec. 30 after serving 23 years of his 45-year sentence.

Buice was 17 on July 4, 1991, when he and nine other youths from The Woodlands, a suburb north of Houston, drove to the Montrose area, Houston’s gayborhood, where they attacked three gay men leaving a nightclub. Two of the men managed to get away from the gang of young men wielding knives, pipes and nail-studded boards.

But Paul Broussard, a 27-year-old banker, was beaten to death. His death sparked outrage in the LGBT community statewide, and publicity surrounding the brutal murder helped prod the Texas Legislature to pass a law that mirrored the federal Hate Crimes Statistics Act. That law called for local and state law enforcement agencies to collect data on hate crimes, and was Texas’ first step toward a comprehensive hate crimes law.

ABC 13 Eyewitness News in Houston, in reporting on Buice’s parole, talked to Ray Hill, the Houston activist who led efforts to make sure Broussard’s murder was investigated as a hate crime and led marches and protests, pressing prosecutors for stiffer punishments. Hill later changed his mind, deciding that it wasn’t a hate crime, but just a case of drunken teens getting in a fight. He has since led the push to get Buice released on parole.

“I was the second person [Buice] hugged when he walked out of the door today,” Hill told ABC 13 the day Buice was released. “He hugged his father then he grabbed on me and was a little longer holding on to me.”

Broussard’s mother, Nancy Rodriguez, had fought diligently over the last 23 years to keep Buice in prison. In August 2011, the parole board reversed an earlier decision to release Buice on parole then after they were given “new information.” Rodriguez, who had traveled to Texas from her home in Georgia each time Buice was up for parole, said in 2011 that Buice had never shown remorse for killing her son, and that she did not feel like he had changed. “I am concerned [Buice] will go out and do something else to someone else,” she said at the time.

Under the terms of his parole, Buice will have to wear ankle monitor, avoid contact with the victim’s family and get permission from his parole officer if he ever wants to return to Harris County.

—  Tammye Nash

‘Hate’ crimes or not, recent attacks are bias crimes

Tammye NashOf the 12 — or more — attacks on gay men in Oak Lawn since the first of September, only one has been classified as a possible hate crime. That’s because that is the only one of the robberies/assaults in which the victim was able to say definitively that the men who robbed and beat him used anti-gay slurs while they were robbing and beating him.

These other attacks, according to the way the hate crimes law works, can’t be investigated or classified as hate crimes — at least not at this time — because no one can say there was anti-gay language used. And since the victims were robbed — or at least, their assailants tried to rob them — police can’t say that anti-gay sentiment played any role in the motives for the crimes.

But guess what: That doesn’t mean it doesn’t either. Perhaps the “primary” motive was just robbery. But I would be willing to bet that some form of homophobia or anti-gay hatred played a part in whom these assailants chose to rob.

And no, I am not just saying that to try to sensationalize the sensation and “create headlines” for Dallas Voice. I am saying that based on what two men who have been convicted and executed for crimes against gay men told me.

Who remembers Nicholas West? You know, the young gay man who, in November 1993, was kidnapped from Tyler’s Bergfeld Park and taken to a gravel pit near Noonday, where he was beaten and then shot to death. A man named Donald Aldrich was arrested less than a month later, and in his confession, he bragged about killing West because West was gay and Aldrich hated gay people.

Two years later, in July 1995, I drove down to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Ellis Unit, just outside of Huntsville, to talk to Aldrich face to face. He had agreed to the interview because he wanted to tell me — so I could tell the LGBT community — that he didn’t really hate gay people and that he was, in fact, at least bisexual himself.

He told me he only told Smith County officers that he hated gays, because he figured they hated gays, too, and might give him a break. Then a few weeks after the interview, Aldrich mailed me a piece of cross-stitch he had done. It was a pink triangle on a background with all the rainbow colors. I kept it thumb-tacked to the wall of my cubicle at the Dallas Voice offices on Carlisle for years.

But he told me something else that was — and is — very, very important: It didn’t matter whether he or Henry Dunne or David McMillan — his two co-defendants — actually hated gay men. They targeted gay men because they believed gay men were easy targets.

This is from the article I wrote for Dallas Voice following my interview with Aldrich:

“Aldrich does not deny that he was involved in the events that led up to West’s murder. And he does not deny that he was involved in a string of robberies and carjackings in the month or so before West’s death.

“What he does deny is that the crimes were committed, at least on his part, out of any sort of hatred for gays. The gay men were targeted, he said, because “Homosexuals make themselves easy targets. They don’t report these crimes, because they don’t want anyone to know they’re gay.

“Think about it,” he added. “You want to make some easy money, and you’re going to do it illegally. Are you going to rob a gas station where the whole thing will end up on videotape and you might get $40 or $50? Or are you going to go across the street to the park where the homosexuals hang out and rob them, where you know there won’t be any videotape and [the victim] won’t report it?

“Hey, you go where the money is, and that’s one reason why I got in this in the first place, to make some fast, easy cash.”

Aldrich, who was executed by lethal injection on Oct. 12, 2004, for his role in West’s murder, made it clear: Maybe he and his cohorts in crime didn’t actually hate gay people, but they definitely and deliberately targeted gay people.

(Dunne was executed in 2003, and McMillan was sentenced to life in prison, by the way.)

Want another example? I have one.

On May 18, 1997, Aaron Foust and Jamal Brown murdered David Ward, a gay man who worked as an administrator at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. Foust was convicted and sentenced to death. But before he was shipped off to the Ellis Unit in Huntsville to await his execution — which happened on April 28, 1999, after Foust refused any appeals — Foust agreed to sit down and talk to me.

I met him in a small room at the Tarrant County Jail, and we sat across a folding table from each other as we talked, with a guard sitting just outside the door. Foust told me that day that he and Brown went after Ward because Ward’s ex-boyfriend owed Foust money for drugs. But Foust killed Ward because he was gay.

“If he had been a straight, married man, with a wife and kids, I’d have let him live,” Foust said of Ward. “Or if he’d been single [and heterosexual], I probably wouldn’t have killed him. I would have kicked his ass, but I probably wouldn’t have killed him.”

When it comes right down to it, it doesn’t matter if these criminals are coming to Oak Lawn to beat and rob people because they hate gays or because they just think gays are easy targets; it doesn’t matter if the robberies are the main point of the attacks and the beatings are just after-thoughts because the victims are gay.

What matters is that gay people in the gayborhood are being targeted for whatever reason. And as far as I am concerned, that makes these crimes of bias based on the sexual orientation of the victims.

—  Tammye Nash

UPDATE: Tap House employee attacked; community members vow to fight back

Hubbard

Geoffrey Hubbard

We are getting more information as the morning wears on about the attack last night of Geoffrey Hubbard at the intersection of Rawlins and Knight streets in Oak Lawn. We are also hearing from several people that they intend to take to the streets of the gayborhood this weekend, armed with guns, to protect themselves and others, and at least one man is trying to organize a kind of community watch to patrol the streets in shifts.

This is at least the 12th reported attack on a gay man in Oak Lawn since Sept. 20. At least three other attacks have taken place that Dallas Voice has heard of that may not have been reported to police.

Hubbard, in a post to his Facebook page this morning, said that doctors at Baylor stitched a laceration on the left side of his head, just over his ear, and that a CAT scan “found a temporal fracture in my skull. Got put on morphine and sent to the ICU for observation.”

Information released by the DPD’s Public Information Office this morning said that an off-duty police officer was driving through the neighborhood at around 11:13 p.m. Thursday night, Nov. 19, “when he came across the victim who was hiding underneath a vehicle.” The statement indicates that Hubbard told the officer “he was walking on the sidewalk towards where the suspect was standing and tried to go around him [and] that is when the suspect struck the victim in the head with an unknown object. The victim ran away from the suspect and hid under a vehicle.”

The statement also said that detectives were “able to confirm this morning that robbery was the motive of this offense” because Hubbard told investigators that the suspect when through his pockets after knocking him to the ground and “appeared to be looking for his wallet.”

Geoffrey Hubbard

Geoffrey Hubbard

Police have asked that anyone with information call 214-671-3584.

But Hubbard’s best friend, Caleb Barton, said that Hubbard was attacked by two African-American men, about 5-feet, 9-inches to 5-feet, 11-inches, wearing dark pants, t-shirts and caps/beanies. Barton said Hubbard told him that he saw one of the suspects ahead of him and that a second attacked him from the side.

This description of the attack on Hubbard matches the description of the Nov. 1 attack on Tito Gonzalez. Gonzalez was walking home from his job at Quesa when he noticed a man following him. He tried to cross the street, but someone approached from that side. The two men trapped him and brutally attacked.

The attack on Hubbard, coming less than 24 hours after the second community meeting this week with Dallas Police Department officials over the increased violence, has infuriated many residents of and frequent visitors to Oak Lawn. More than one person has contacted Dallas Voice reporter David Taffet this morning, telling him they are licensed to carry concealed handguns, and plan to be on the streets of Oak Lawn with those guns this weekend.

Justin Penney, who works at Thairrific restaurant, posted on Facebook asking for people to join him in staking out “certain areas around Cedar Springs” this weekend. “Hours of watch will be 10 p.m.-12 [a.m.] to start. The more people we have the more area we can cover. If DPD won’t keep us safe it’s up to us.”

Officer Laura Martin, the DPD’s liaison to the LGBT community, this morning warned against private citizens arming themselves to patrol the streets. “It’s a bad idea,” she said.

—  Tammye Nash

Lighting up Oak Lawn for safety

Dallas Voice photographer Winston Lackey was on the scene Sunday night, Nov. 1, for the Light Up Oak Lawn: March for a Safer Gayborhood event. Here are his photos from the event.

—  Tammye Nash

Dallas police ask for info on assaults, robberies

Screen shot 2015-10-26 at 3.38.26 PMWith less than a week to go in October, Dallas police today (Monday, Oct. 26) posted a blog on their website asking for the public’s help in solving a number of robberies and assaults that occurred  in Oak Lawn over the past two months.

During the last two months, police said there have been nine robbery and aggravated assaulted offenses “in or near the Oak Lawn Community … . In every case, the victim was alone in a public place during the hours of darkness when he was attacked.”

Police say five of the offenses reportedly were committed by a group of two to four Hispanic men “who knocked their victims to the ground and punched and kicked them while stealing their property.”

The attackers in one of these five used a baseball bat on their victim “causing serious bodily injury,” police said. That attack happened on Sunday, Sept. 20, after the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade when a young man named Blake (he has asked that his last name not be used while his assailants remain at large) was attacked on a Cedar Springs side street. The men who attacked him dragged him into a vehicle and continued to beat him before dumping him several blocks away near the intersection of Wycliff Avenue and Sylvester Street.

Police are investigating the attack on Blake as a hate crime because of the anti-gay language his assailants used during the incident.

This group of five attacks also includes one on Oct. 1 when Jaime Dominguez was jumped and stabbed in the chest, neck, ribs and on the side of his head while walking along Cedar Springs Road about 1 a.m.

Police said a white Ford van was used in at least one of these attacks.

Two of the nine offenses were reportedly committed by a black male who robbed his victims at gunpoint, according to the DPD blog. The suspect is described as being between 28 to 30 years old, 5-feet, 10-inches in height, and about 150 pounds. In one offense he was wearing a yellow shirt and blue jeans and in the second he was wearing a gray shirt and black pants.

There is no suspect vehicle information for this individual.

The other two attacks were reportedly committed by one to three black men who “knocked their victims to the ground and punched and kicked them while stealing their property,” police said. One suspect is described as being between 18 to 20 years old, 5-feet, 8inches tall and about 150 pounds. The other two suspects are both described as 6 feet tall and about 185 pounds.

There is no suspect vehicle information.

Police ask that anyone with any information on these offenses or these suspects call the Dallas Police Department Robbery Unit at 214-671-3584.

 

 

—  Tammye Nash

Suspect jailed in Philadelphia trans woman’s murder

Keishia Jenkins

Keisha Jenkins

One man is in jail and three others are being sought by police in connection with the murder last week of trans woman Keisha Jenkins in Philadelphia, according to NBC 10 in Philly.

Philly police are saying that Pedro Redding is one part of a neighborhood gang that has been robbing people in the Hunting Park neighborhood, where Jenkins was shot to death. Police say that Jenkins was a victim of convenience and not targeted for being transgender, so they are not investigating her death as a hate crime.

Police said that Jenkins had just been dropped off on Winghocking Street, near 13th Street, at about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, when she was attacked by a gang of several men who began beating her. When she fell to the ground, one of the men pulled a gun and shot her twice in the back.

A judge this morning (Monday, Oct. 12) denied bail for Redding, 24, who has a lengthy criminal history, including having pled guilty to aggravated assault and weapons charges in 2014.

Screen shot 2015-10-12 at 2.58.20 PM

Pedro Redding

Jenkins, 22, is believed to have been the 21st trans woman murdered this year in the U.S. She is the second trans woman murdered this year in Philadelphia; Londyn Chanel was murdered May 18 by her roommate.

Thanks to Houston trans activist Monica Roberts and her TransGriot blog where we find this information.

—  Tammye Nash

Rally set for Sunday in response to attacks

Screen shot 2015-10-09 at 11.57.17 AMDallas LGBT activists are calling on the community to rally Sunday night, Oct. 11, on National Coming Out Day, at the Legacy of Love Monument as a show of strength and solidarity in opposition to a recent rash of possible hate crimes in the Oak Lawn gayborhood.

Three gay men have been injured in three separate attacks since Pride parade day in Dallas on Sunday, Sept. 20. About a month and a half earlier, on July 29, the body of murdered trans woman Shade Schuler was found in a field near the Medical District.

And overnight Thursday, Oct. 8, glass doors at JR’s Bar and Grill and TMC: The Mining Company — two Caven Enterprises bars located in the 3900 block of Cedar Springs Road — and at Woody’s Sports and Video Bar — one block over at 4011 Cedar Springs Road — were broken out when someone threw something, possibly bricks, through the glass.

“We say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” declares the Facebook page announcing the Sunday night rally. “On this National Coming Out Day join members of the Dallas LGBTQ community and our allies as we say publicly that we will not be pushed back into the closet by fear, intimidation and hatred. Join our call for justice and vigil with us for the victims of these atrocities.”

We Are Not Afraid: LGBTQ Response to Hate begins at 7 p.m. at the Legacy of Love Monument, located at the intersection of Oak Lawn Avenue and Cedar Springs Road. The list of speakers is still being finalized, but you can check for updates at the event page on Facebook.

Organizers ask that those attending bring signs, banners, flags, candles and other light sources.

Here is the info on the three men who have been attacked:

• A young man named Blake, who has asked that his last name be withheld because his attackers are still at large, was walking near Cedar Springs Road at 9:15 p.m. on Sept. 20 after the Dallas Pride Parade when he was attacked him with a baseball bat and abducted by four men. They pulled him into a car and then dumped him, bloody and beaten, near the intersection of Sylvester and Wycliff.  Because his assailants used anti-gay slurs during the attack, police are investigating the case as a possible hate crime.This case is being investigated as a hate crime. A GoFundMe account is still collecting donations to help Blake.

Jaime (Michael) Domingez was walking home down Cedar Springs Road, near the Cedar Springs Tap House, when he attacked around midnight on Friday, Oct. 2. He was attacked from behind and stabbed and cut several times with a razor blade or knife, leaving him with stab wounds and cuts on his arms, stomach and across his eye. There is also a GoFundMe account set up to help cover his medical costs and other expenses.

A third man named Michael, who also asked that his last name be withheld, said two people punched him recently as he was walking to a Cedar Springs bar. He said he didn’t call police right away because he’d been drinking before the attack happened, but he changed his mind after seeing televised reports about the attack on Jaime Domingez.

Shade Schuler’s badly decomposed body was found July 29 near the 5600 block of Riverside Drive. Police are still trying to determine how she was killed and a possible motive for her murder. Schuler, 22, is one of 21 trans women killed nationwide this year. Most of those victims have been trans women of color.

—  Tammye Nash

Austin police release mug shot of alleged attacker

Fera.Tony

Mug shot of Tony Fera (courtesy Austin Police Department)

Austin police have released the mug shot of the man arrested in the attack of Andy Smith, a Texas Instruments executive from Dallas.

The man is Tony Fera, 51. Austin Business Journal identifies him president of MidStar Energy, a Houston oil company. His bail was set at $5,000.

—  David Taffet