A Washington man has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in an August attack on three gay men who were walking in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Troy Deacon Burns, 38, admitted that he shouted homophobic slurs at the men while brandishing a knife. The three men fled the scene. However, Burns caught up with one of his victims, again used a gay slur and attempted to stab the man.
According to Justice News, Burns claimed he does not remember the attack as he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta said:
“The Department of Justice will continue to vigilantly protect the rights of victims who are targeted simply because of their sexual orientation.
“Six years have passed since the enactment of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and it continues to serve as an important tool for federal law enforcement.”
U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes of the Western District of Washington added:
“No one should have to fear attack because of their sexual orientation when they walk down the streets of the cities and towns in Western Washington.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to working closely with the Civil Rights Division to ensure cases like this are prosecuted and that the common decency that is at the heart of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act is respected by all.”
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law by Barack Obama in 2015.