Maryland Delegate Proposes Changes to Hate Crime Law After Deadly Frederick Fair Attack

A state delegate for Frederick County, Maryland, is proposing changes to the state's hate crime law after a man was fatally attacked at a county fair.

John Weed, of Mount Airy, was at the Great Frederick Fair with his family on Friday when officials say a 15-year-old boy sucker punched him, without provocation. The teen and his 16-year-old brother had asked Weed for a dollar and he refused, according to prosecutors. Weed died the next day at age 59.

Del. Dan Cox, a Republican, introduced a bill Tuesday call the John Weed Dignity Act. It would add "dignity of the human body" along with harassment and destruction of property to a list of acts that fall under the hate crime statute, The Frederick News-Post reports.

The bill would make it a hate crime if a person intentionally throws, hits, spits on, smears, or ejects any bodily fluids on someone if they refuse to give money or "any tangible thing" to that person.

The teens taunted and spit on Weed when he was down on the ground, Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said.

“That to me shows hatred and disgust and despise,” Jenkins said.

"I think it’s hateful and I think rational people would think ... it’s hateful to put any bodily fluids on any other individual without their consent. ... When you include with that with the actions of another crime, it raises a concern when you’re targeting someone because of their class, their gender, their age," Cox told the News-Post.

Weed and his sister had recently moved their parents and other family members to Frederick County, with the dream of living all together, she said. He handled "all the day-to-day responsibilities of caring for us." 

Before the attack, Weed was "the happiest I've ever seen him," his sister said.

She called for the teens to be punished.

"We just wanted to spend time together as a family at the fair, but due to this horrible act of unprovoked violence my brother is now dead. There is no excuse for what these individuals have done," Hawkins said.

Both teens charged in the attack were charged as juveniles. The 15-year-old boy was charged with first-degree assault, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment, the sheriff's office said. His 16-year-old brother was charged with second-degree assault. The prosecutor may ask that they be tried as adults.

Weed's family had raised more than $13,000 toward a $20,000 goal as of Wednesday afternoon

They asked for any witnesses to the attack to contact the sheriff's office.

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