“If this case were to go to trial the court would prove that the victim was walking to ‘The Pink Store’ with a friend to get something to eat. They passed these defendants [Moragne and Williams] and the codefendants. At some point … Mr. Cain believed Mr. White made a sexual advance against him. Mr. white has firmly said no he did not,” Banks said.
“The sexual advance toward Cain led to Cain being offended. Cain got upset as Mr. White exited the store and struck him from behind. These two defendants [Moragne and Williams] began to hit stomp and kick Mr. White,” Banks added. Moragne was also identified as the person who threw a tire on White as he was on the ground trying to shield himself from the constant blows.
“It is important to note that was all being videotaped as they all said, ‘No faggots in Jack City,” Banks said. “Clearly in the state’s view this is a hate crime.”
Moragne and Williams, wearing blue jump suits with Fulton County Jail emblazoned on their backs and shackled at the hips and hands, entered the non-negotiated pleas to charges of belonging to a street gang, robbery by force, and aggravated assault. When asked how they entered on each of the charges, they simply replied, “guilty.”
Moragne at first hesistated to pleading guilty to belonging to a street gang, but relented after speaking with his defense attorney and after Judge Jackson warned him he was ready to take the case to a full trial.
The two other suspects, Cain and Javaris Williamas, have not entered plea agreements although they were scheduled to be on the trial calendar today. One defense attorney could not make court because of an illness in the family. Defense attorney Jay Abt, who represents Moragne, broke two of his ribs after falling through his ceiling and his co-counsel stepped in for him today, according to Greg Smith, an advocate for Brandon White who was in the courtroom when the explanation was made. Smith and White have also started a Speak Out Georgia campaign to bring awareness to violence against LGBT people.
Abt told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution however that a federal hate crime is expected to be filed against his client.
Last week, Atlanta FBI spokesperson Stephen Emmett told the GA Voice that the case has to go through the Fulton court system before any legal federal involvement in the case can take place. The FBI has been working with the Atlanta Police Department and the U.S. Attorneys Office to investigate if the crime constitutes a federal hate crime.