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The LGBT Hate Crimes Project: Jimmy Lee Dean – Update

This entry is part 49 of 53 in the series lgbt hate crimes project

One of the most striking things about tracking hate crimes in such detail is how long it takes for any given case to play out, and how long those involved have to wait for resolution. I started to say “how long those involved have to live with what happened,” but — whether its a victim who survives an attack, or the love-ones and family who survive the victim — in most cases, some one will live with what happened for the rest of their lives. Some, like Jimmy Lee Dean, have to come face to face with it, everytime the look in the mirror. 

You might look at Jimmy Lee Dean’s face as one that has been scarred by hatred. And most reasonable people would agree. Someone kicking you and stomping on your face while yelling “gay ass motherfucker” and “punk ass bitch,” would probably seem to you like a hate crime, and one based on your real or perceived sexual orientation. If your assailants also tell police that they targeted you because they were looking to rob  gay man (beause they thought it’d be easier), and you fit or seemed to fit the bill. The police might even thing it’s a hate crime.

But once your case finally makes it to court, you may find out that — as far as the court or to D.A. is concerned — you weren’t a victim of a hate crime at all. Or, at least, the guys who stomped you a new face while calling you a “gay ass motherfucker” and “punk ass bitch” didn’t commit a hate crime, as far as the court is concerned. They won’t be charged with one, anyway.

✂——✂

I first posted about Jimmy Lee Dean’s case back in August of last year, and by then the hate crime charge had been dropped. Or at least the DA would not categorize the crime as a hate crime, nor would they seek hate crimes charges. The reason is because in Texas (the attack against Dean took place in Oak Lawn, TX), apparently a hate crime conviction does not result in enhanced sentencing. Not only that, but bringing such a charge can force a greater burden of proof on the prosecution.

Put together, that seems to discourage bringing hate crimes charges, unless I’ve got the wrong information about the Texas law. I’m just guessing most attorneys don’t want to include charges that are just likely to get tossed out, especially if that extra effort doesn’t increase sentencing in the end.

But, hate crimes charge or not, Jimmy Lee Dean will probably bear for the rest of his life the consequences of being beaten by two guys who were looking for a gay guy to rob and decided he looked gay enough.

The two suspects, 26-year-old Bobby Jack Singleton and 31-year-old Jonathan Russell Gunter, are accused of pistol-whipping Dean with a 9mm Glock handgun, then kicking and stomping his head, face and body as he lay motionless and belly-up in the middle of a dimly lit street.

Singleton and Gunter are charged with aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony, because authorities recovered a set of keys and a Zippo lighter, valued at a total of $30, that belonged to Dean.

…Dean reportedly suffered a broken jaw and vertebrae, as well as several other facial fractures and severe swelling. Witnesses reported that after the beating, his nose was attached only by a piece of skin.

Dean’s injuries were so bad that police were unable to interview or identify him for days after the attack. On Tuesday, July 22, a spokesman for Parkland Memorial Hospital said Dean’s condition had been upgraded to fair, meaning he was no longer in intensive care.

“He’ll survive, but he needs a lot of reconstructive surgery,” Warner said a day earlier. “He’s in and out [of consciousness] and in a lot of pain. They did a real number on him.”

Some damage just can’t be repaired.

Jimmy Lee Dean still hasn’t regained his sense of smell, and a procedure to straighten his drooping right eyelid was unsuccessful.

Dean, 43, is awaiting yet another surgery to repair and replace teeth, but perhaps the most devastating  impact of the brutal gay-bashing he suffered seven months ago has been psychological.

Once a very active, fun-loving person, according to his friends, Dean said he now has little energy and suffers from depression.

Earlier this month, one of Dean’s assailants received a 30 year sentence for his role in the attack on Dean. But the case will go on a bit longer before it’s closed, as the other assailant awaits trial. But even when the finaly verdict is in and the sentence handed down, neither will be serving as long as a sentence as they gave to Jimmy Lee Dean.

Jimmy Lee Dean, 42, is a bisexual man from Oak Lawn, TX, who was attacked and beaten while walking home with a friend on July 16, 2008, by two men who yelled anti-gay epithets during the attack.

The Background

Dean, a native of Cincinnati, had lived in Dallas for about 20 years, and had lost contact with his family. Dean worked as a freelance web designer, but his true love is music and playing his guitar, and his goal is to open a home recording studio to help other artists cut demos.Around midnight on July 17, Dean left Alexandre’s — one of two gay bars he’d been to that night — and began walking back towards his apartment complex 50 yards away. Michael Robinson, a 48-year-old gay man and car salesman, walked out of Zini’s Pizzaria around the same time. He encountered Dean, who was walking in the same direction, and the two struck up a conversation.1)

Near the corner of Throckmorton Street and Dickerson Avenue, they passed Bobby Jack Singleton, 26, and Jonathan Russell Gunter, 31, walking in the opposite direction. Dean gave them a nod, having recalled seeing them there before, and kept walking.2) Singleton and Gunter doubled back and came up behind Robinson and Dean. Robinson turned to confront them.

The Attack

A verbal exchange occurred between the parties, and Robinson urged Dean to keep walking. When Singleton and Gunter got between him and Dean, Robinson ran to his apartment one block away and retrieved a kitchen knife. When he returned, Dean lay on the ground with Singleton and Gunter kicking him, stomping his face and yelling things like “you gay ass motherfucker, punk-ass bitch,” according to Robinson.3)

Singleton and Gunter attacked Dean, pistol-whipped him with a 9mm Glock handgun, as well as kicking and stomping his head, face, and body. Witnesses said that Singleton and Gunter used anti-gay epithets before, during, and after the attack.4)

When Robinson approached with the knife, the one of the men pulled the gun on him that they’d used to beat Dean. Distracted, they began walking a way from Dean. Norman Draper, 26, a heterosexual passing motorist acting as designated driver for some gay friends, saw Singleton and Gunter pass behind his car on foot, and saw Dean lying in the street. Draper left his vehicle, put flares on the road, and called 911. A former security officer and Police Explorer, he used latex gloves to retrieve the gun that Singleton and Gunter had tossed into some high grass, as well as a bloody knife lying next to Dean.5)

The Motive

Singleton and Gunter later admitted to police that they’d targeted Dean because they thought it would be easier to rob a gay man.6)

The Aftermath

Dean

Dean was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital. He suffered a broken jaw and vertebrae, as well as facial fractures and swelling. Witnesses at the scene said that after the beating, Dean’s nosed was attached only by a piece of skin. His injuries were so bad that police were unable to interview him for days after the attack.7)

The attack left Dean unable to talk to police for at least 24 hours8), and hospitalized for 10 days.9) His jaw and cheek bones were crushed from kicks to the head.10)

Seven months after the beating, Dean still suffered pain from the attack, lived with depression11), and had not regained his sense of smell,12) He awaited surgery to repair and replace death damage or lost as a result of the attack, but surgery to repair his drooping eyelid was unsuccessful13), making it unlikely that his facial injuries from the attack will be repaired surgically.

Community Response

Following the attack, Robinson went on to organize an hate crimes advocacy group, United Community Against Gay Hate Crimes.14)

Arrest

Singleton and Gunter were apprehended at the scene by security guards from the nearby clubs. They were arrested and held on bail; $300,000 for Singleton, and $300,500 for Gunter.15) They were charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, a first-degree felony, because investigators recovered a set of keys and a Zippo lighter from them, which belonged to Dean.16)

Court

On July 31, the Dallas County prosecutors announced that they would not seek hate crimes charges against Singleton and Gunter. Dallas police plan to categorize the attack as a hate crime for statistical purposes. Prosecutors, however, decided not to pursue hate crime charges because Singleton and Gunter already face the maximum penalty — up to 99 years — if convicted. Under Texas law, a hate crime conviction by a jury could not result in enhanced sentencing, but a hate crimes charge could put a greater burden of proof on the prosecution.17) Texas law dictates that a hate crimes designation is made during the sentencing faze of a trial, after conviction.18)

Sentencing

On March 4, 2009, Gunter was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the attack on Dean. He face up to life in prison after being convicted of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.

Series NavigationThe LGBT Hate Crimes Project: Steven ParrishThe LGBT Hate Crimes Project: Tony Randolph Hunter

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