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Author Topic: WHAT???!!!!!  (Read 21016 times)

InVinoVeritas

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WHAT???!!!!!
« on: May 13, 2005, 09:30:46 PM »
One town's justice

Light sentences for assault of black man divides Texas community

Friday, May 13, 2005 Posted: 11:42 AM EDT (1542 GMT)

LINDEN, Texas (AP) -- After a mentally disabled black man was found beaten, unconscious, and shivering on a fire ant mound in 2003, four white men charged in the crime could have faced 10 years in prison.

But folks in this poor, pine-locked Texas hamlet of 2,300 say they knew better.

On Friday, the four young men accused of severely injuring 44-year-old Billy Ray Johnson during a late-night pasture party are expected to be sentenced to probation or brief jail time after juries rejected more serious charges and recommended suspended sentences for two of them.

The victim survived the attack but can't walk without help or speak clearly.

Some white residents believe it is a fair outcome for a few "good boys" from prominent families with no previous legal trouble. But other residents, blacks and whites, say the sentences are far from fair and just another example of justice being tainted by small-town politics, racism and a court system that favors whites.

"They devalued his life. A lot of people might not of thought it was worth much, but it was his. And they got nothing," said black resident Alma Linwood, a lab technician who lives on the country road where Johnson was found. "It's actually not a surprise. It's pretty much what I figured would happen. That's just the way it is."

A judge is scheduled Friday to sentence defendants John Wesley "Wes" Owens, 22, Dallas Stone, 19, James Cory Hicks, 26, and Christopher Colt Amox, 20.

Authorities have said that Johnson, well-known around town as a friendly but "slow" character who loved dancing, was lured to an all-white pasture party where underage drinkers fed him alcohol and picked on him.

"I feel like he was invited to be taunted because of his limited mental capacity, not so much his race," said District Attorney Randal Lee, who is white. "He was the entertainment for the night."

Owens and Stone, who pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony charge of injury to a disabled person by omission, testified that Amox and Johnson were arguing about country versus rap music when Amox told Johnson to leave.

Then Amox swung at Johnson, who fell and began vomiting and gagging, according to testimony. The men loaded Johnson into a truck and drove to an old tire dump, where they left him on an ant hill.

Doctors soon determined he had suffered a concussion that, without medical attention, could have killed him, Lee said. Johnson was hospitalized for weeks. He now resides in a nursing home, undergoes rehabilitation and is unable to walk without help or speak clearly.

Amox, facing the same felony charge as Owens and Stone, was convicted of misdemeanor assault in March. The jury recommended a suspended one-year jail sentence, meaning no time behind bars.

This month, a different jury found Hicks guilty of the felony charge, which carries a penalty of two to 10 years in prison. That jury recommended that Hicks' three-year prison sentence also be suspended.

Owens and Stone agreed in their plea deals to 30 days in the county jail and a $2,000 fine.

Lee, the district attorney, said the juries' decisions were in line with other juries who sympathize with first-time offenders. And he pointed out that the so-called beating involved one punch.

"This is not that horrible of an outcome. They were all convicted, they'll all be on probation, they'll all have a criminal record, they'll all be watched," he said. "They didn't get off scot-free."

Dennis Spears, 59, a white man whose owns a countertop business in town, said he was struck by the verdicts but empathized with the plight of young boys making bad choices under peer pressure.

"Only thing I saw about it, they oughtn't to have dumped him. They could have taken him to the hospital just as easy," Spears said as he drank coffee at a country store with friends. "Things just got out of hand."

But R.C. Taylor, a white retired heavy equipment operator and barber, said the boys didn't deserve harsh punishment.

"It's been handled good as far as I'm concerned. They ought not to have been tried at all," Taylor said. "I think they should be turned loose, set free, with a slap on the wrist. It was just one of those things."

Others say that's the kind of attitude that led to the assault of Johnson.

"Whites stay with whites, blacks stay with blacks and the American flag still flies like a rebel flag," said Donovan Epps, a black 22-year-old hanging out with friends at Dairy Queen. "Getting probation is just like not getting tried at all. You leave a person for dead, that's like murder."

dbgirl

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Re: WHAT???!!!!!
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2005, 12:06:07 AM »

Well when I am a prosecutor, this sh!t won't happen on my watch.
In my county, those men would be put away for a long time.
The prosecution should not have allowed the men to plea-bargain.

It does not matter if they assaulted him because was black, or disabled, or both ... it doesn't matter WHY they did it, they deserve to go to prison.

So says [future] Deputy District Attorney DB.
When you have somebody dying because they are poor and black or poor and white or because of whatever they are ... that erases everything that's great about this country.

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Dolcejn

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Re: WHAT???!!!!!
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2005, 07:41:08 AM »
Oh my god.  How unbelievably vile.  Indicative of four evil men, and a community that should be regarded as an accomplice to their dispicable crime.
HLS

InVinoVeritas

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Re: WHAT???!!!!!
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2005, 10:08:03 AM »
this article reminds me of the problems associated with devolving too much decision-making power to local levels.  there's so much talk about keeping power at local levels, but then stuff like this happens.  at this point, what's billy ray johnson's recourse?  is he just completely screwed because he's been basically outvoted by the majority?

Stroopwafel

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Re: WHAT???!!!!!
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2005, 04:40:05 AM »
Favorite part:

"It's actually not a surprise. It's pretty much what I figured would happen. That's just the way it is."


Caucasians don't think about race unless they are forced to.

Minorities don't want to think about race, but are forced to constantly.


Ummm what year is this again?
I've said it before, and I will say it again. Some cuts have gone on too long, too deep, and too often for there ever to be a solution, or resolution.
Rest not. Life is sweeping by; go and dare before you die. Something mighty and sublime, leave behind to conquer time.

-Goethe

giffy

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Re: WHAT???!!!!!
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2005, 11:54:53 AM »
Wonder how it would have went if it had been the oppiite.

"A beloved mentally disabled man who was an inspiration to all was brutally beaten by four black gang members and left for dead. The four are expected to get life inprisionment. While none have any criminal records, DA Lee says that "We beleive that these four have been and are a conintued threat to the community. The fact that they have no record just means we  they haven't been caught. The were out late, drinking underage, and listening to loud rap music, that sounds like gang behavior to me". The trial in this horrific crime is scheduled to begin monday and hsoudl be rather brief, senencing is expected by Friday. HOwever the time for the ounds to heal in this town will take much longer. Local resident R.C. Taylor remarks "No punishment is harsh enough for what these boy did"

dbgirl

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Re: WHAT???!!!!!
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2005, 02:51:28 PM »
I feel fortunate that they don't stand for that sh!t in the county where I live and work (and plan to work as a prosecutor.)

In my county, those men would be in prison for years ... no plea bargains no light sentences.

And giffy, I believe you are right. If the perpetrators of the crime were black and the victim white, the results would be much different.

And people say racism isn't a problem anymore.
When you have somebody dying because they are poor and black or poor and white or because of whatever they are ... that erases everything that's great about this country.

-TMcGraw

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Dolcejn

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Re: WHAT???!!!!!
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2005, 06:07:37 PM »
I wish you all could have seen the awful spectable that was a football game in Madrid (I think it was Madrid).  There is this amazing English player, Ashley Cole, who's black, and every time he would get the ball, the Spanish fans would make ape noises (same with the other black English players, but he got the worst of it because he's a left back and he often gets the ball). Ape noises!!!  It's important to remember that racism is an international problem.  And while I realize that there are worse things in the world - murder, rape, etc. - it still made me want to cry.  Cole, bless him, played as though he didn't hear them. 
HLS

A.J

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Re: WHAT???!!!!!
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2005, 06:28:50 PM »
"late night pasture party" = death penalty

davisxa

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Re: WHAT???!!!!!
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2005, 01:04:48 AM »
Caucasians don't think about race unless they are forced to.

Minorities don't want to think about race, but are forced to constantly.

I don't think the above sweeping generalization is true. Some people choose to be allies (White allies to people of color, male allies to women, straight allies to queer people). It's true that people with privelege get to choose, but some people do choose to be allies.
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