Saturday, May 2, 2009

Perpetrators of Vicious Hateful Beating of Iraq War Veteran Have Sentences Reduced After Shocking Courtroom Revelation

Lou Roberts, an Iraq war veteran, was viciously beaten by a group of Iraq war protesters who singled him out because he was wearing his uniform.

Roberts was on his way to visit his partner when a large group of protesters began taunting him. They surrounded him, knocked him to the ground, and kicked him repeatedly, breaking several ribs, cracking his skull, and leaving him for dead after taking his wallet.

The incident led to the first-ever federal hate crimes trial prosecuted under a new law that imposes more severe penalties on those whose crimes are motivated by hatred for certain classes of people whom the legislation singles out for special protection.

Testimony at trial revealed one of the assailants remarked that Roberts “looked like one of the four-eyed geeks” he used to pick on in high school, and that he was probably “a patriotic nut who’s been responsible enough to save lots of money for his family.”

The perpetrators were on the verge of being convicted of aggravated assault and attempted murder -- and sentenced to life in prison -- when defense lawyers showed the jury a shocking photo of Roberts kissing his partner.

His partner was a woman, and Roberts was, in fact, a heterosexual. Gasps rippled through the courtroom, and several jurors, visibly shocked, steadied themselves in their chairs.

None of the factors that motivated Roberts’ attackers were covered by the hate crimes law -- which protects only certain people, including gays and lesbians -- and consequently the assailants’ sentences were significantly reduced.

“The victim seemed like such a nice fellow, and my heart really went out to him,” one juror said following the reduction in sentence. “But when we learned he was a heterosexual, well, the crime didn’t seem so horrible, at least in the eyes of the law.”

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