The case has moved slowly through the court system. In April, Luke was re-indicted with an additional charge, and now faces five charges of felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one charge of attempted murder. After over a year of waiting, Luke’s self-defense immunity hearing occurred in July of this year. Luke was denied immunity, but the defense feels that the hearing went well for Luke.
At the immunity hearing, the prosecution made a series of ludicrous claims in order to prop up their case. They made a point of asking every witness whether or not the term “faggot” was offensive, or just a synonym for other “non-offensive” terms like “pussies or bitches,” and later used the word “nigger” as another example of a “non-offensive” term. The prosecution’s attempt to neutralize such blatantly homophobic words make it clear that the New Year’s incident is not a singular event, but part of a greater social problem of homophobia.
Since the May 13th immunity hearing, one of the so-called victims in Luke’s trial was seen in footage of a horrific transphobic attack which occurred just outside of the Stratosphere skate shop in Little 5 Points, a neighborhood in northeast Atlanta. This attack captured the interests of media outlets and provoked outrage in many Atlantans. Just a few weeks prior to this attack, two trans women were accosted, beaten, and stripped nude on a MARTA train by a group of men while on their way home. We find these attacks disturbing and wrong — and hope that the incident involving Luke will be understood as a part of this larger context.
Following the denial of immunity, the case will now move on to trial by jury. Although Luke was denied immunity, we are still hopeful that the trial will proceed favorably for Luke. While the burden of evidence for the immunity hearing rested upon the defense (Luke and his lawyer and witnesses), the burden of evidence for the trial will rest on the prosecution. At trial, arguments for self-defense can still be made. We have just received notice that the trial will begin on Monday, August 11.
In the year and a half since the incident, much has been accomplished: the original media narrative which painted Luke as a deranged aggressor was successfully challenged; over thirteen thousand dollars have been raised; and people across the country and the world have displayed their support. In the week and a half until trial, we have a lot more to do. We ask for your continued support in whatever ways you can provide it:
– We are still $200 short for legal fees. This is a menial sum compared with the amount that has been raised since Luke was first arrested, but we still need to cover this cost. Any amount will help. You can donate here.
– There will soon be a pre-written postcard that everyone can send to the judge (through Luke’s lawyer) presiding over Luke’s case. The postcard is an effort to make clear to the judge that many people are watching and care about Luke’s case. Although a jury will decide the verdict (guilty or not) on Luke’s case, the judge will give the sentence. Letters of support and appeal to the judge may therefore have influence over Luke’s sentencing in case of a guilty verdict. The postcard will be available in both print and online form.
– If you are able to make it to court at 9AM on Monday, August 11, please do. Our presence at court will demonstrate to the judge and jury that Luke has many supporters who love and care about him and the issue at stake. Court will be held at the Superior Court of Fulton County, 136 Pryor Street, S.W., Suite C-640. Please come in appropriate court attire.
– Please stay tuned for updates on Luke. Whether it be for a happy celebration or the beginning of long-term support, Luke will continue to need your help after the trial.
Thanks for everything.