There are new developments in the prosecution of the four men accused of attacking Brandon White, the young gay Atlanta man whose vicious assault was videotaped and went viral across the internet. Two defendants pleaded guilty today and face up to 75 years in prison and federal hate crime charges, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Nineteen-year-old Dorian Moragne and 18-year-old Dareal Williams accepted non-negotiated pleas to charges of aggravated assault, street gang activity and robbery by force. Prosecutors say the brutal assault started after one defendant claimed that White made a sexual advance, reports The GA Voice.
"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 co-defendants. At some point … [Christopher Cain] believed Mr. White made a sexual advance against him. Mr. white has firmly said no he did not,” [Prosecutor J. Gabriel Banks] said. "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's defense attorney had previously admitted that his client was "only" recording the assault—but claimed that he was "not" one of the assailants. Moragne and Williams face more than 75 years in prison. Two other suspects—Christopher Cain and Javaris Bradford—did not entered plea agreements today. Cain's attorney could not attend the hearing. Williams remains at large.
Moragne's attorney, Jay Abt, said federal authorities "flew a lawyer down here personally to inform us." A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office did not respond to a request for comment on the federal charges. Abt said he assumes Moragne's co-defendants will also be charged by the U.S. Attorney, who has been investigating the case since February.
Cain has been described as one of the "main aggressors" of the 4 February attack who "stomped White after he was punched and kicked". Cain was captured on 11 February and was the first suspect collared. Moragne surrendered on February 17. Williams fled Georgia and surrendered to Pennsylvania authorities on February 23. Bradford was indicted by a grand jury in late March.
The victim Brandon White says that he "feels good" about the the guilty pleas. "Justice will be served," said the 20-year-old man. "It's been a journey. I've been down. Boy, have I been down."
Moragne and Williams will be sentenced in July. The federal prosecution and/or sentencing begins after the state has concluded its case.
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