Skip to comments.Dorm beating defendant testifies: 'I was embarrassed' (Or the Gay Hate Crime That Wasn't)
Posted on 06/11/2003 5:59:32 AM PDT by Lance Romance
Dorm beating defendant testifies: 'I was embarrassed'
By BILL MONTGOMERY
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A Fulton County Superior Court jury deliberates today on the fate of an expelled Morehouse College student accused of beating a fellow student with a 26-inch baseball bat because he was being stared at in the shower.
"I was scared; I was embarrassed because I was naked and he was looking at me," Aaron Price testified Tuesday afternoon about the events leading to his striking junior Gregory Love. Prosecutors contend Price seriously wounded Love on Nov. 3 because he thought he was the target of a sexual advance.
Price maintained on the stand that Love hit him first.
Price, the defendant, was the only witness called by the defense. A minister's son from Chicago, Price said he was in a dormitory shower when he sensed someone outside the stall. He turned to see a man's eyes peering over the curtain.
Price said he asked the man, "What's your problem?" The man replied, "I'm sorry; I thought you were my roommate." Price said when the man he learned was Love got into the adjoining shower, "We were cussing at each other.
"He said, 'Shut up, or I'll kick your [rear],' " Price added.
Price, who is 5 foot 3 inches tall, said he left the shower, went to his room, dressed, and grabbed the bat he had used in Little League. He said he returned and tapped the bat on the stall occupied by the 6-foot-2 inch Love.
"I knew he was big and tall, and I needed protection," Price testified. He added that Love "jumped out at me" swinging his fists. "Did he hit you?" defense attorney Tony Axam asked.
"In the lip," Price replied.
Price said he responded by swinging the bat at Love and missing, before connecting once.
Love suffered a fractured skull and underwent surgery at Atlanta Medical Center for a blood clot in the brain.
Price denied testimony from Love on Monday that he ever shouted anti-gay epithets at Love, even after Love told him he was not gay.
If convicted, and the jury believes a crime was committed because Price thought Love was gay, Price could face heavier penalties.
Price's is the first case to come to trial under Georgia's July 2000 hate crime law. It mandates increased sentences for crimes motivated by race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
If Price is found guilty of aggravated assault and aggravated battery against Love, the trial will enter a penalty phase, in which the jurors will hear evidence on whether the crime was motivated or aggravated by bias against someone he thought was homosexual.
Erik Friedly, spokesman for Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, said the hate crime law could add an additional five years to a sentence. Price could get a maximum sentence of 20 years each for aggravated assault and aggravated battery; sentence length would be set by the judge, Friedly said.
Under cross-examination from Assistant District Attorney Kellie Hill, when prosecutors asked him to demonstrate how he swung the bat at Love, Price restated that Love initiated the fight.
"The boy threatened to kick my [rear]. . . . I was embarrassed and hurt. I hit him in the head, but I didn't bash him."
Here is the Hate Crime Legislation in all it's glory. Additional penalties because someone called someone else a name while attacking them.
Whoa! One dude ogles another? Bingo!
Let's try this... someone calls someone a "fundamentalist Christian"... whereupon the name-caller is beaten senseless.
Q: who comitted the hate crime?
If Price believed that Love's threat was sincere, then 'leaving the scene' really isn't an issue. Presumably, Price could reasonably expect he would see Love again. 'Leaving the scene', in this case, would seem to require leaving school.
He did arm himself with a bat. Now, he is 5' 3" and Love is 6' 2". It only seems prudent that if he felt threatened he would take measures to mitigate his disadvantage.
He did return and reopen the conflict. For me, this is the hardest part to defend. One might ask why he didn't go back to his room and leave it alone. I suppose the counter to that is that he may have felt Love's threat was more than momentary. That is, Love said he was going to kick his a$$ and Price believed that the threat did not pass with the moment. In that case, he confronted what he considered to be an 'on going' threat. If someone I deal with on a daily basis threatens me and I remove myself from their presence, it is reasonable for me to assume that the threat still exists at our next meeting.