Was Slain Principal Targeted Because He Was Gay?

Attorney seeks federal hate crime investigation

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Brian Betts

    High-profile attorney Gloria Allred is pushing for a federal hate crime investigation in the murder of Brian Betts.

    Betts was a beloved principal at Shaw Middle School in the District. He was murdered inside his Silver Spring, Md., home in April.

    Alante Saunders, 19, plead guilty last month to killing Betts after meeting him on a gay chat website. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison, with the possibility for parole after 20.

    “If he was targeted because he was on that chat line, then we believe it would fall under the Matthew Shepard Hate Crime Law,” said Allred after she and Rene Sandler, who represents the Betts family, met with members of the U.S. Justice Department.

    The Matthew Shepard Hate Crime law was passed in 2009. It allows for federal prosecution of suspects who target individuals who are gay, or perceived to be gay, for violent crimes.

    When asked if this was more a case of opportunity than a hate crime, Allred said regardless of where they could have located Betts, the only interaction was on the gay chat website.

    “We feel an important interest has not been vindicated," she said. "There has not been full justice for Brian Betts and his family, and for persons who are gay.”

    It’s unclear when the Justice Department will decide whether or not to prosecute the case.