Thursday, November 7, 2019

Another Continuance in the Trial of 4 Men Accused of Hate Crime in Florida

Photo of hate crime defendants via Miami Beach PD
In a status conference on Thursday, the court hearing the case of four men accused of attacking a gay couple in the wake of the Miami Beach Pride festival in 2018 has postponed the case until January 21, 2020. This is the third continuance of this trial. The four defendants — Adonis Diaz, Juan Carlos Lopez, Luis Alonso Piovet, and Pablo Reinaldo Romo-Figueroa — have all pleaded “not guilty.”

On April 8, 2018 a gay couple used a public restroom in the park that serves as a buffer between Ocean Drive and the beach. Upon leaving the restroom, one of the accused screamed “faggot” in Spanish. The man was then beaten to the point of unconsciousness. The man's boyfriend intervened but the four men who allegedly committed the crime overpowered him.

A bystander attempted to break up the melee. He was punched repeatedly and ended up in the hospital.

Police have videos of the attack from multiple sources. Each of the four men were charged with three counts of aggravated battery with a hate crime enhancement. Aggravated battery, under Florida law, provides a maximum prison sentence of up to 15 years. With the hate crime enhancement the maximum penalty becomes 30 years in prison. The men are now wearing ankle monitors and have each posted a $72,000 bond. The men are all in their early 20s.

What is particularly sad is that one of the men beaten, Dmitry Logunov, told NBC local news:
We probably provoked them because we were walking together, holding hands. It was gay pride, South Beach was full of gay people.
No sir! No! You need not excuse holding hands with your boyfriend. You are entitled to do so without risking physical violence. Those who assaulted you are 100% responsible for what occurred.

It would appear that the judge in this case is being especially careful to be fair to the defendants given the seriousness of the charges and the length of prison sentences if they are convicted. If doing so prevents being overturned on appeal then I am all for it.

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