Alicia Johnson, spokesperson for the Chatham County DA’s office, which includes Savannah, said Aug. 27 that the two Marines would only face misdemeanor charges for allegedly punching Daly.
The two Marines will appear before a judge in state court on Sept. 9. The judge is expected to hear the case and render a verdict, Johnson said. The case has already been postponed twice.
After the alleged attack on June 12, LGBT activists in Savannah and Atlanta called for the FBI to investigate the incident under the federal hate crimes law.
Johnson said after the FBI, the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department and the DA’s office reviewed Daly’s medical records and conducted further investigation, they determined this case had “no merit” to be considered a hate crime.
“I can’t speak on the specifics because this is pending litigation, but for a crime to be considered a felony [which a hate crime is considered to be] there has to be proof of a sustained injury,” Johnson said.
“It’s my understanding Daly suffered only a punch. Based on his medical records we could not upgrade the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony.”
If convicted of a misdemeanor, the Marines could face less than a year in jail and a fine of no more than $1,200, she added.
Kevin Clark of the Savannah chapter of Georgia Equality said he was “deeply disappointed” the Marines would not be tried under the federal hate crimes law.
“Apparently there is a host of criteria to be met and I fear there will be many occasions [of alleged hate crimes] that will fail to meet this substantive criteria,” Clark said. “This boosts our fierce objective to get a state hate crimes law.”
Georgia is one of only five states in the nation without a state hate crimes law.