An assault in opposition to a Latino man and his son prompted some Utah officers to deem a state hate crime statute ineffective as a result of it may be utilized solely to misdemeanors.
“The statute that now we have is such an untenable and unworkable statute that now we have not had a profitable prosecution of a hate crime for the final 20 years on the state degree,” Sim Gill, district lawyer for Salt Lake County, instructed the New York Occasions. “It’s nugatory. It’s not well worth the paper it’s written on.”
On Nov. 27, Alan Covington walked into Lopez Tires in Salt Lake Metropolis and shouted: “I’m right here to kill a Mexican” earlier than attacking Jose Lopez and his teenage son Luis with a 3-foot metallic pole, authorities stated. The youthful Lopez was despatched to a hospital in vital situation with lacerations and face fractures.
His father bled from his face and was “gurgling and coughing on his personal blood.” He was launched from a hospital Friday.
Covington, 50, an African-American, stated he focused the store as a result of he believed it was a part of a conspiracy in opposition to him by the Mexican Mafia jail gang.
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Prosecutors have charged him with three felonies in reference to the assault, two counts of second-degree assault and illegal possession of a weapon by a felon. He additionally faces two misdemeanor drug crimes, in response to charging paperwork. He may face greater than 26 years in jail.
He was being held on $100,000 bond.
Gill stated the hate crime statute in Utah may be utilized solely to misdemeanors, that means an assault just like the one which allegedly occurred to Lopez can’t be categorized as a hate crime, he stated.
“You’d suppose a hate crime is essentially the most egregious sort of conduct and you’ll need to have the ability to apply it that manner,” he stated.
Makes an attempt have been made to amend the legislation, most not too long ago in 2016, which was impressed by an assault on a bunch of homosexual males in Salt Lake Metropolis. That failed effort was led by Stephen H. Urquhart, a Republican state senator, in response to the Occasions.
Urquhart attributed the opposition in opposition to the modification to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Gill stated opponents of expanded hate crime legal guidelines concern a brand new legislation may “create particular rights for folks” or give the federal government the ability “to police any individual’s ideas,” the paper reported.
“However that’s not what is occurring when now we have proof,” he stated. Pointing to a case just like the assault on the Lopez household, when a suspect is alleged to have explicitly said a bias throughout an assault, he added, “I don’t have to take a position about what goes via your thoughts and what message you might be sending.”
The Related Press contributed to this report.