Lesbian convicted of anti-gay hate crime returned to jail

By : Lou Chibbaro Jr. of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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A 23-year-old lesbian, who along with her twin brother completed a one-year jail term last year for severely beating a gay man in an anti-gay attack, was returned to jail on Tuesday by a D.C. Superior Court judge for violating the terms of her probation.

Judge Patricia A. Broderick revoked probation for Christina Lucas during a Feb. 28 show-cause hearing on grounds that Lucas’ arrest on Sept. 17, 2016 on charges of obstruction of justice and resisting arrest — and her subsequent guilty plea on the resisting arrest charge — violated the terms of her probation.

Court records show that the Sept. 17 arrest stemmed from an incident in which police said she blocked police from entering a bedroom in a D.C. apartment where her brother Christopher Lucas was hiding to avoid arrest on a charge of making threats to do bodily harm to another person.

Charging documents say Christopher, the same brother convicted with Christina Lucas in the anti-gay assault case, climbed out a window in the bedroom and escaped arrest due largely to his sister’s obstruction of police from initially entering the bedroom. Police subsequently found and arrested him, but he was acquitted of the dual charges of threats to do bodily harm and attempted threats to do bodily harm in a non-jury trial last month.

The revocation of Christina Lucas’ probation this week marked another in a series of controversial developments surrounding her and Christopher Lucas’ conviction in May 2015 on the felony offense of hate-related aggravated assault while armed. The charge was linked to allegations by police that the two led a group of others in a vicious beating of a 29-year-old gay man on a street in Northwest Washington.

Police and prosecutors said the gay victim was leaving a party at a friend’s house with his mother and a female cousin in October 2013 when he was approached by the Lucas siblings and a group of other people with them. Christina Lucas called the victim a “faggot motherfucker” as she, her brother and the others with them began to punch him, knocked him down and stomped him, according to witnesses who testified at the trial.

A sentencing memorandum submitted by prosecutors said Christina Lucas “sliced [the victim’s] face with a sharp object while he was on the ground.” It says it was only by “pure chance” that the victim did not die after being repeatedly and forcefully struck in the head and upper body. Among other injuries, he suffered several facial fractures and a possible permanent brain injury, prosecutors said in the sentencing memo.

Following their trial, a Superior Court jury found the Lucas’ guilty of both the underlying charge of aggravated assault while armed and the commission of an anti-gay hate crime.

While praising the jury for its decision, LGBT activists expressed outrage when the judge presiding over the case, Yvonne Williams, rejected prosecutors’ call for a sentence of between five and 15 years of incarceration and instead handed down a sentence that activists and police considered lenient.

Williams sentenced the two siblings to four years in jail but suspended all but one year. She also placed each of them on probation for five years following their release from jail.

In addition, over the objection of prosecutors, Williams agreed to a request by defense attorneys to sentence the two under the city’s Youth Rehabilitation Act, which allows all records of their conviction and sentencing to be sealed from the public view if they successfully complete the terms of their probation.

And in a development that startled LGBT activists, Williams said at a follow-up court hearing that she chose not to hand down an enhanced sentence under the provisions of the city’s hate crimes law because she did not believe Christina Lucas, as an out lesbian, could commit a hate crime against another gay person. Williams said she also determined that Christopher Lucas, who accepted his sister as gay, would not have targeted another person on the basis of that person’s sexual orientation.

During the show-cause hearing on Feb. 28, Judge Broderick agreed to prosecutors’ request to revoke Christina Lucas’ probation but chose not to follow prosecutors’ call for resentencing Lucas to the full three years’ time remaining in the suspended sentence handed down by Judge Williams in 2015.

Instead, Broderick sentenced Lucas to four years in prison but suspended two years and credited her with already having served one year. Thus the new sentence means Lucas must serve one more year in prison after which she will be placed on two years of probation, according to Broderick’s sentence.

Broderick also denied a request by the lead prosecutor in the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Veronica Jennings, to not resentence Lucas under the Youth Rehabilitation Act. Broderick, saying she was hopeful that Lucas would be a candidate for rehabilitation, continued Lucas’ sentence under the Youth Act.

The judge also denied a request by defense attorney Courtney Vaughn that Lucas be sentenced only to further probation and no additional jail time.

Christopher Lucas’ acquittal on the charge of making threats to do bodily harm means he will remain free on probation. Court records show that the person Christopher Lucas allegedly threatened had testified against him at the trial for the 2013 anti-gay assault case.

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