Detectives are reportedly "very close" to making an arrest in the case of Tony Randolph Hunter, the black gay Maryland man who died after a brutal street attack near a gay bar in Washington DC. This should be interesting: Sources close to the investigation say the suspect(s) will reportedly claim an outrageous "gay panic" self defense.
The 37-year-old Hunter and a friend were severely beaten on September 7 near Eighth and N Streets N.W. The two were headed to the BeBar, the popular gay club. Four men attacked Hunter and his friend and police initially classified this as a hate crime. The Washington Blade:
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Alexander Padro said two people familiar with the investigation told him police were in the process of obtaining a warrant for the arrest of one suspect that was identified by an informant.
Padro said he was told that the suspect confessed to killing Hunter, but the suspect insisted he acted in self-defense after Hunter made advances toward him.
"I’m very concerned that this guy is trying to use the gay-panic defense,” Padro said. “It’s ridiculous, and I hope the police don’t fall for that kind of nonsense."
When questioned about the situation, police spokesperson Tracy Hughes issued a brief statement and declined further comment.
"No warrant has been issued,” she said. “However, there is a person of interest in the case. Detectives are continuing to follow up on several leads."
A severe blow to the head left Hunter in a coma and lingering ten days in a vegetative state. The Clinton, Maryland man died on September 17th.
Investigators withdrew the hate crime classification after determining "there was insufficient evidence of anti-gay bias and that robbery appeared to be the motive for the crime." At least one of Hunter's associates tells Newschannel 8 he believes anti-gay bias was the motive, and, indeed, this outrageous "gay panic" defense would seem to prove the anti-gay bias. The four men initiated the attack against the Hunter and his friend. No words were spoken. What could these four men have possibly feared? Once again, it seems that gay men are re-victimized in their death.
Police "Very Close" to Arrests [Wash Blade]
DC Police Say Fatal Attack Robbery, Not Hate Crime [R20]