Thugs who ‘nearly killed’ gay couple for holding hands at Pride escape jail time
Four men in Florida have been let off of jail time after beating a gay couple to the ground for holding hands at a Pride event.
Juan Carlos Lopez, Luis Alonso, Adonis Diaz and Pablo Romo-Figueroa were sentenced to five years probation and 200 hours of community service for the attack on Rene Chalarca and Dmitry Logonov in 2018, which saw the couple hospitalised.
Logonov and Chalarca were holding hands while in line at a public bathroom in Miami during the South Beach Pride celebrations when the group attacked them.
The four assailants surrendered to police after CCTV images of them were released.
— Jamie Guirola (@jamieNBC6) April 10, 2018
At the time the four were charged with aggravated battery with hate crimes enhancements and could have faced up to 30 years in jail.
However, under a plea deal last month, the charges were reduced to two counts of battery with prejudice and all four received the lesser sentences of community service and probation, along with the requirement to attend anger management class.
Miami-Dade state attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said: “As a community, we must always come together to address issues of violence, especially when it is rooted in prejudice and hate.
“I am glad that today we are able to give these victims the justice they justly deserve and some measure of closure so that healing may begin.”
The four defendants initially pled not guilty and last year tried to argue self-defence under Florida’s “stand your ground law”, despite the video footage showing their attack on Chalarca and Logonov.
After a three-day hearing judge Ariana Fajardo Orshan refused their motion and said: “There’s nothing in that video, and I have watched it over and over again, that showed me that any one of these defendants was in fear for their safety or their lives.”
As part of the plea deal, the four men were forced to apologise to Chalarca and Logonov in court.
“This is not me, I wish we acted a different way and I’m sure it’s not going to happen again. I offer my sincere apologies,” Alonso said in court.
“My actions that day don’t define who I am or how I was raised,” Romo-Figueroa said, while Diaz said “I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn from my mistakes.”
Logonov said: “Today, I’m taking a chance to rebuild my life,” he said. “I believe these gentlemen should have that chance, too.”
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