Man Gets Six Months in Fatal Beating Near Gay Club

Lack of severe charges outraged gay activists

Wednesday, Oct 14, 2009  |  Updated 4:30 PM EDT
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Man Gets Six Months in Fatal Beating Near Gay Club

AP

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WASHINGTON -- A 19-year-old man has been sentenced to about six months in jail in the beating death of a man outside a Washington gay club.

Ten days after he was attacked while going to a gay bar in the Shaw neighborhood in September 2008, 37-year-old Tony Hunter died from injuries sustained when he fell back and hit his head after being punched. Robert Hannah pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault.

The lack of more severe charges in the case has outraged activists in Washington's gay community. Prosecutors have said they had problems with witnesses and that Hunter was drunk when he was punched, which may have made it harder for him to keep his balance.

A D.C. U.S. Attorney's Office document argued Hannah couldn't be charged with first-degree murder because it could not be proven that he stole anything from Hunter. Nor could Hannah be charged with second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or assault with a significant injury because there was no evidence he intended serious injury. And involuntary, misdemeanor manslaughter didn't apply because there was no proof Hannah caused Hunter to die by attacking him "in a manner that created a reasonably foreseeable risk of appreciable physical injury.''

But at least they caught him for something.

Hannah claims Hunter inappropriately touched him before he punched Hunter.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Rafael Diaz sentenced Hannah on Wednesday to 180 days in jail, the maximum possible sentence.

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