Detroit: Hate-crime assault suspect pleads guilty

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A man in Detroit entered a guilty plea in court today, admitting that he assaulted a man in a corner shop based on the assumption that the victim was gay.

On 7 March, 2011, the victim, Justin Alesna, was hit in the face, causing a fractured eye socket, among other facial injuries. According to the plea agreement, Everett Avery, 36, knew nothing about the victim before the attack, and only assaulted him because of his assumption that Alesna was gay.

Prior to striking the victim, Avery admitted hurling homophobic profanities, and telling him to step away. The incident took place at A BP petrol station at 9pm.

Avery will be sentenced in November, when he could face up to ten years in prison, but according to the terms of his plea deal, his sentencing guideline suggests 12 to 18 months in prison. A fine of up to $20,000 could also be imposed.

Robert Foley, of the FBI, investigating said this case should set an example to those who might commit similar crimes:

“The FBI is committed to protecting the community from those who are motivated by hate to victimize anyone as the result of their sexual orientation,” reported the Detroit Free Press.

President Barack Obama signed the US Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law in 2009, which expanded federal hate crime laws to include those where the victims were targeted on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, and disability.