A 71-year-old woman is facing hate crime charges after she allegedly beat and choked her neighbor with her cane, called him a “faggot” and said she thought he had AIDS and would give it to her son, officials said.
Wanda Derby and her son were “having issues” when he decided to move in with the family next door Wednesday night in the 3200 block of Ash Park in Richland Hills, Detective Tye Bell with Richland Hills police said.
When a 25-year-old neighbor came over to help her son move, Bell said she allegedly struck him several times and choked him.
“I guess she got enraged and she just started whooping him with a cane,” Bell said.
Bell said the man suffered bruises to his body and neck but was treated at the scene by Richland Hills police.
Derby allegedly struck the man’s mother when she came to help him and tried to call police. Bell said the man did not fight Derby because she is 71 and he did not want to harm her.
She was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon that could be enhanced as a hate crime because she called the man “faggot” several times when talking to police and told them that he had AIDS and would give it to her son, Bell said.
“Her statements were very biased toward sexual preference and that gave us the probable cause to file that as a hate crime,” Bell said.
Derby was taken to the North Richland Hills Jail and was released on a $11,500 bond Thursday afternoon.
The man she allegedly attacked, who preferred to remain anonymous, said he was staying with his mother next door for a few months while in town for business.
About a month ago, his mother called him and told him not to come home for safety reasons. He returned but rarely saw Derby.
Derby then began posting comments on Facebook that said he is gay and had AIDS that would eventually kill him. While he said he is gay, he doesn’t know how she found out. He also said he doesn’t have AIDS.
“I had nothing against her and from what I know she had nothing against me, but it started coming out online,” he said.
The man grew up next door to Derby and her son, who is in his mid-30s. He said Derby and her son were arguing a lot and the son was going to live with his mom, grandmother and uncle next door.
But when he tried to help with the move, he said she “just broke.” He didn’t fight back because he was raised to never hit women and he didn’t want to “disrespect his family.”
“Everything in me wanted to hit her but I’m not going to give her the satisfaction of giving her something out of it,” he said.
Police were called out to the apartment last week because Derby was allegedly yelling expletives at the man’s 83-year-old grandmother. Derby was issued a ticket.
Bell said police had made one other call to the apartment complex in the recent past, but he was not sure if Derby was involved in the reason for the call.
The man suffered minor injuries, but wants Derby to learn a lesson from the hate crime charge to stop harming other people verbally or physically if she has.
He said he is proud of being gay and that the attack did not change that.
“She’s not going to make me feel bad for who I am,” he said. “I’m not changing my lifestyle because someone feels I am a disgrace.”