Teen thug to serve only a few years in prison for ‘heinous, brutal’ homophobic attack on a ‘complete stranger’

Corey Robert Welch

A Maryland teenager has been sentenced to 15 years in prison, with all but four years suspended for a brutal, homophobic assault that took place last year.

Corey Robert Welch, 18 of Fredrick, Maryland, was sentenced on Wednesday (12 May) to more than a decade in prison after he pled guilty to first-degree assault and a hate crime.

But the judge suspended over 11 years of the sentence and gave Welch credit for the 15 months he’s already served in jail – meaning he will spend about four years in prison, according to The Frederick News-Post. After serving his prison sentence, Welch will be required to serve five years of supervised probation.

His co-defendant – Martin Potomac Gieser, 19 of Ijamsville – was sentenced to a six-month prison sentence in October for second-degree assault related to the attack.

Welch was 17 when he attacked a 23-year-old man at a house party in New Market, Maryland in February 2020. Laura Corbett Wilt, the assistant state’s attorney, said the victim was a “perfect stranger” to Welch. She explained that he tried to leave the party after Welch made comments about the victim’s perceived sexual orientation.

Welch then put the man in a headlock, strangled him and caused him to lose consciousness three times. Geiser reportedly held the victim down, and both men took the victim’s belongings.

Welch hurled homophobic slurs at the victim throughout the attack, according to prosecutors.

The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office responded to the assault in the early morning hours of 16 February. The victim suffered from a concussion, a raspy voice, a leg injury and swelling and redness around his neck.

Welch was brought in to the Frederick Grand Jury on 21 February 2020, and he pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and a hate crime on 12 April 2021.

Corey Robert Welch’s defence attorney Matt Drawbaugh argued his client was “under the throes of his addiction” at the time and has expressed remorse, according to The Frederick News-Post.

His grandmother also offered a statement on behalf of the family, acknowledging the teenager made an “irresponsible” decision and should be held accountable. But the family asked for leniency in the sentence and described Welch as someone who needed treatment for alcohol and drug abuse.

The victim shared he has struggled with his mental health since the homophobic attack and has lost his job as a result. He reportedly has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Every morning, I wake up with panic and anxiety,” the victim said. “I know I will never be the person I was before the attack.”

Circuit Court Judge Theresa Adams handed down Welch’s sentence in what she described as a “heinous attack”. She acknowledged the man will still be young when he is released from prison and questioned if he will be able to turn his life around.

Will Cockney, a spokesperson for the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office, said in a statement to WFMD called the incident a “brutal attack”. He said Welch’s sentence was “appropriate given this egregious crime”.

“Targeting any person based on their perceived sexual orientation is just completely unacceptable, and we will absolutely prosecute these types of cases here in the Frederick community,” Cockney said.

He added the victim and his family were “satisfied that justice had been served in this case”, and the sentencing is a “moment of closure for this terrible ordeal”.

Corey Robert Welch was initially brought before juvenile court, but Cockney said prosecutors “worked hard to make sure the defendant was charged as an adult in this case” due to the severity of the attack.