Three of the four men who are accused of a 2019 assault on a gay couple in downtown Austin will not be serving any additional jail time after reaching plea deals.
The three men each pleaded to two counts of misdemeanor assault with a hate crime finding. However, the Austin police detective who investigated the fight reported about a year into the investigation said he doesn’t think the assault was a hate crime. The attorney representing the man whose charge was dismissed said the case was “motivated by misinformation.”
Following the 2019 assault on Spencer Deehring and Tristan Perry, a citizen foot patrol was created and a night-time rally was also organized at the Capitol. The incident has also diverted attention to the way hate crimes were prosecuted in Austin.
“We will not stop until the hate crime laws in Texas are enhanced to allow thorough prosecution of those committing such heinous crimes,” Perry and Deehring said in a statement.
“Our community has to live in constant fear of narrow-minded violent individuals that are threatened by our very existence. No person should be subjected to violence because of who they love or what they look like. Love will always conquer hate,” they added.
The three accused persons are Quinn O’Connor, Frank Macias, and Kolby Monell. The court ordered two years of probation, community service totaling 50 hours, and mandatory counseling for anger management for O’Connor and Monell while also preventing them from going downtown for two years.
Macias agreed to serve one year in jail which he had already served in Travis County and is currently locked up in the Denton County Jail on a separate charge.
The court dismissed the case against the fourth accused.
“The district attorney’s office takes these cases very seriously,” Assistant District Attorney Beth Payan said in a statement. “… It was very important to us that we secure the hate crime finding so that justice could finally be served. Hate crimes will not be tolerated here in Travis County, and they will be prosecuted accordingly.”
Rhett Braniff, Macias’ attorney, said that investigators “have to prove that the defendants selected the victims because of their bias” according to Texas law related to hate crimes.
The initial charges against the four men were those of a first-degree felony as they were accused of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. If the incident had been designated as a hate crime, it would have meant a maximum penalty of a life sentence.