The following article was posted to Digital Journal on August 14, 2014.
ATLANTA, Aug. 14, 2014
Victim of Anti-Gay Hate Crime Luke O’Donovan of Atlanta Sentenced to 10 Years for Self-Defense
Family and Friends Rally in Support while Attackers Remain Free
ATLANTA, Aug. 14, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following is being released by The Luke O’Donovan Support Committee:
Luke O’Donovan, survivor of a homophobic attack in Atlanta, GA, was sentenced to prison on August 12 through a negotiated plea deal that he accepted in order to avoid decades in prison, simply for defending himself from a violent attack.
After leaving a New Year’s Eve party on December 31, 2012, witnesses say O’Donovan, a 21-year-old student at Georgia Gwinnett College, was attacked and beaten by at least five men who yelled homophobic slurs during the fight. O’Donovan defended himself with a pocketknife and managed to escape. He was later treated at Atlanta Medical Center for stab wounds and injuries to his head and body. Witnesses report seeing between five and 12 men gang up on O’Donovan, stomping on his head and body, and stabbing him in the back while calling him a “f*gg*t.”
Police arrested O’Donovan within the hour while he was receiving treatment for his injuries. He was charged with five counts of felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, to which one count of attempted murder was later added. O’Donovan faced up to 110 years in prison if convicted.
Four of O’Donovan’s attackers also required treatment at the hospital. Others remained on the scene of the fight to give statements to the police. None were charged for their role. From the outset, the facts of the case were biased by the mob nature of the attack and the complicity of some onlookers. The resulting demonization of O’Donovan’s actions fits into a growing trend of criminalizing those who successfully defend themselves from hate crimes.
O’Donovan’s defense team was able to negotiate the 10-year sentence after video footage surfaced of one of O’Donovan’s assailants participating in an attack of a transgender woman on July 3. O’Donovan will serve two years of the sentence in Georgia state prison and the remaining eight years on strictly supervised probation.
The arduous court proceedings have shown the court and the presiding judge to be biased and homophobic. During O’Donovan’s July 1 immunity hearing Judge Markle allowed the prosecution to use bigoted language in open court, asking every witness if the term “f*gg*t” was offensive or just a synonym for other “non-offensive” terms like “p*ssies,” “b*tches,” or “n*gg*r.” In his comments before sentencing, Judge Markle stated that the 10- year sentence is much too lenient, and despite agreeing to the plea negotiated by the Defense and the Prosecution, Judge Markle added an arcane, punitive stipulation effectively “banishing” O’Donovan from the state of Georgia during the eight years of his probation.
Homophobic and transphobic attacks in Atlanta are increasing in prevalence. Earlier this summer in Atlanta, a group of men accosted, beat, and stripped two trans women nude on a MARTA train. This came only one month before the videotaped assault of a transgender woman near to where O’Donovan was attacked.
O’Donovan’s support team are asking Judge Markle to remove the criminal banishment from Luke’s probationary conditions. Supporters can contact Judge Markle directly and send letters and books to Luke O’Donovan throughout his sentence.
For more information, go to: https://letlukego.wordpress.com.
SOURCE The Luke O’Donovan Support Committee