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Hate Crimes Against Gays Tackled In 2 States

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Hate Crimes Against Gays Tackled In 2 States

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

August 9, 2006 - 5:00 pm ET

(Detroit, Michigan) A Detroit teenager has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for the shooting of a gay Canadian.

Salvagio Vonatti,31, of Windsor, Ontario, was shot in the head as he walked toward a Detroit gay bar last December. Vonatti remains in a coma and is unlikely to recover.

Steven Williams Jr., 17, was sentenced to six to 10 years in prison for attacking Vonatti and and two years for the firearm charge. The charges will be served consecutively.

In a sentencing statement, Judge David Allen said that he regarded the shooting outside of a popular Detroit gay nightspot as a cold-blooded anti-gay attack, recalling that Williams shot Vonatti at close range while calling the victim a “faggot” and other anti-gay epithets.

In addressing Williams directly the judge said, “It haunts this court, Mr. Williams, that you choose to harm someone so vulnerable.... Like you [Mr. Vonatti] is a son, brother, uncle, cousin, friend and lover. He loved and was loved and was on this earth to be left alone in peace and happiness. Who and how he loved was none of your business and was no threat to you and the community... Let's also get one other thing straight that came up in trial. Homosexuality is not a ‘ lifestyle’ or ‘ choice.’ Homosexuality is no different than the color of your eyes or hair; you come out of your mother's womb with no choice in the matter. After all, would anyone in their right mind choose to be homosexual with predators like you shooting them in the head for being gay? Defining the issue as one of choice only makes it easier to hate, condemn and harm as you so illustrate.”

Detroit LGBT organization Triangle Foundation praised the court for sentencing Williams to the maximum but was critical of the jury for fi9nding him guilty of assault rather than attempted murder.

Meanwhile, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, police have charged two more people in connection with the kidnapping and beating of an 18 year old gay man last month.

The arrests bring to four the number of people charged in the case.

The victim and a female friend had gone to a party at a local home but when they tried to leave the four became verbally abusive. When they managed to get outside the group jumped them.

They were held and the gay man was beaten by the suspects who said that they were going to beat him straight. The beatings continued throughout the night and into the next morning.

The names of the victims have not been released for their own security.

The 18-year-old man suffered bleeding on the brain and a concussion as well as facial lacerations and bruising. He has since been released from an area hospital.

The four are charged with kidnapping, aggravated battery causing great bodily injury, false imprisonment and conspiracy.

©365Gay.com 2006

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