Burke Burnett’s Three Attackers Got Hate-Crime Charges. Here’s Why That’s A Bad Thing.

Three of the Texas men suspected of attacking 26-year-old Burke Burnett by repeatedly punching him, stabbing him with a beer bottle and setting him on fire have all been charged with hate crimes.

Each has been charged with one count of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, along with hate crime charges (which is strange seeing as the hate crime charge will basically require the prosecutors to go through the extra hassle of trying to prove anti-gay bias without necessarily enhancing the men’s punishments even if they succeed).

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #burkeburnett #gaybashings #hatecrimes stories and more


  • KMX

    Any increased burden of proof is only for the hate crime charge, not the “basic” charges. There is no downside to trying for the hate crime charge, but considerable upside if it sticks.

  • Cam

    “”which is strange seeing as the hate crime charge will basically increase the burden of proof on the prosecution without necessarily enhancing the men’s punishments””

    This is actually an out and out lie.

    This is like saying “They have charged him with Assault, Theft, and possession of a firearm, which is strange because the possession of a firearm charge will increase the burden of proof.”

    No, it doesn’t, the additional proof is only required for that particular charge. Additionally, putting a hate crime charge on can pressure them to plead guilty in exchange for removing that charge.

    I can’t tell if this was just somebody uninformed writing this, or another example of Queerty seeming to try to take an anti-gay slant once again as they did when defending Marcus Bachman, Articles stating that bullying didn’t cause suicides, and articles attacking military personal for trying to get the same benefits as their straight counterparts.

  • ponies!!!!!

    @Cam: just look at the writer. Daniel Villarreal has to be one of their worst. I have troubles ever reading any of his stories without feeling the urge to hatete comment

  • ChiGuy76

    And I bet that if the accused men were NOT charged with a hate crime, Mr. Villareal would be complaining about that in his article.

  • RF7

    Quite incorrect. Why is this person allowed to write?heart, mediastinum and pulmonary hila are within normal limits.

  • Andy

    Sounds like everyone else has the legal issues covered, so I’ll take a different tack. Grammar rules state that when one uses an open parenthesis ” ( ” one need also use a closing parenthesis ” ) “. Just sayin’.

  • christopher di spirito

    I disagree. The hate crimes charge is not a bad thing and is in fact, appropriate.

    An aggravated assault charge is listed as second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The Hate Crime charge is considered separate. If established, the sentence would bump the charge up to a first-degree felony, punishable by up to life in prison.

    Burke Burnett’s attackers stabbed him with a broken beer bottle before throwing him onto a fire. His attackers screamed anti-gay epithets at him as they beat and stabbed him.

    Even in Taliban Texas, it is clear Burnett’s attackers tried to kill him. Killing him was their goal.

  • RedAssault

    All crimes have a motivation that decides their level… there’s no one sentence for killing a person… if you do it totally by accident, there’s one charge, if you do it out of self-defense, it’s another and if you do it to collect their life insurance, still another.

    With no hate crimes motivation attached, the defense could be “why would we do this? We don’t even know him… he must be mistaken. It was someone else.” Without the hate of gays as a motivation, they would also be able to say “this was an accident, we were celebrating and throwing him up and down in the air… the “landing in the fire pit” part was an accident.”

    There HAS to be a reason for the crime added to the charge.

    What idiot wrote this? Marcus Bachman?

  • Daniel Villarreal

    @RedAssault: That’s crap. Burnett’s attackers repeatedly punched and stabbed him in front of plenty of witnesses while screaming homophobic slurs. You really think an competent jury is gonna attribute mistaken identity or “birthday celebration gone wrong” as a motivation? Give me a break.

  • Randy

    @Daniel Villarreal: That is your only response to the criticism of your post? Also by stating that “no competent jury…” line you seem to be contradicting your own story, how much more of a burden of proof is there to prove?

  • Allen D.

    I guess someone needs to announce to the community that we no longer want hate crime laws.

  • ewe

    Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go and take all those Penn State pervs with them. The whole damn lot of straight males need to be locked up.

  • Jim Hlavac

    @Allen D.: Sir, I will exactly do that: if I am beaten and attacked like this because I am a white man of European heritage the criminals get say, 10 years — for there is no “hate” supposedly in the attack. And if I am attacked like this because I’m a gay man they get say, 15 years, because there is “legally defined hate.” Why is my gayness more important to my being than the white European male part? They are not — ergo these laws themselves will treat me and my attackers differently because of the words used during the attack — and not because my human worth is the same in either instance.

    In the admittedly unlikely case of suppose three gay men attack me like this because I approach a gay bar and they perceive I am heterosexual — that they expressed hate towards heterosexuals in the attack would be irrelevant to the penalty — which is unfair to me for being a perceived hetero. My attackers would get the lesser sentence — and my worth thus diminished in the eyes of the law.

    If one wanted to argue for a statute that said “when words of hate of any kind are used, then add a year in jail.” then I could support such a law — but such laws do not do this — they single out certain classes of people for different treatment — and that is against out ideal of equality before the law.

    And frankly, I would like just as much legal protection and the criminals just as much penalty whether I was beaten for being European, Hetero or Gay.

  • Allen D.

    With everything else being equal — if your sexuality (or your belonging to any other minority) is the sole reason that you’re singled out for attack, then yes, I think we need hate crime laws.

  • Jim Hlavac

    And you know, I was thinking — with this Penn State thing: the raping of a child is a most hateful thing to do. Rape is hate — and raping a child means you must truly hate them — there is no “love” or even “lust” in this — it is pure hate towards innocence. And yet, there is no “legally defined hate” because the boy will of course naturally be assumed to be hetero — and even if “gay” it still wouldn’t matter — for no “words of hate” were used — for all we know Sandusky was cooing “lovely” while he did this — ergo, under the statutes as written — no “hate.” That the attacker is “hetero” “bi” or “gay” makes no difference — for the status of the attacker is not within the hate crime — it is the words as defined in law and the severity of the attack itself which is perceived as the hate. And so sadly, Mr. Sandusky, hateful man he is towards 10 year old boys, can’t be charged with a hate crime. How sad.

    Yes, reword these laws in a far more inclusive manner — and abandon them as they exist.

  • Jim Hlavac

    @Allen D.: Sir, white hetero men are going to be a minority very soon, maybe even already. Ergo, as a minority, they deserve protection for their minority status. It is said, that by 2050 this nation’s people of European heritage might well be a minority — ergo, as a minority we will deserve protection.

    Or do you mean that white hetero men of European extraction, or those perceived as hetero European-Americans, can never be a “minority” while actually being, numerically, a minority? And therefore my father, two brothers, all my uncles, all my male cousins, (to a man veterans by the way,) and all my hetero male friends are less worthy of protection — and their attackers less worthy of “hate” penalties — even though they be, numerically, a “minority.”

    I dare say — this is a nation of nothing but “minorities” — and the only big split is hetero-gay. Other than that, all are minorities. There are no majorities any more, in this nation – ain’t that grand? Yep! And I wonder too, if all religions but “Christianity” be on the approved list of minorities — though Christians might well wind up in the minority too.

  • WillBFair

    Daniel, don’t be hurt by the negativos. You’re a smart cookie, and the point you make about a downside to the hate crime charge without extra punishment is certainly valid. There are a ton of bitch queen dingbats in the queer community looking to trash what they don’t understand, which is a lot.

  • Riker

    @Jim Hlavac: There is a very good reason hate crime laws exist. When a person of a specific class is targeted, *solely because of their membership in that class*, it isn’t just violence against that one person. It is also meant to intimidate other members of that class, to make them afraid.

    If you beat or murder ten Jews, and the news reports it, other Jews are going to be afraid to go out or be alone at night. If you burn a cross on a black man’s front lawn, it is going to intimidate all the other black people in that area. The harsher sentence isn’t an indication that one group of people is more “special” or “worthy of protection” than another; it is meant to account for that additional crime of intimidation.

  • Sebizzar

    Just saw the interview, poor guy i just wana hug him :'(
    I hope his recovery goes well & he can be as happy as he looked in the pic.
    Also, those bastards better get the punishment they deserve!

  • Seaguy

    They should get the death penalty like so many others do in Texas. What a brutal and heinous attack. Glad to read the victim is not suffering any long term injuries from this attack.

  • Juanjo

    @Jim Hlavac:

    You analysis of what a hate crime is and is not is extremely flawed. If a Christian, Caucasian, heterosexual man was assaulted by a group of people because he was all or some of those groups then it is a hate crime. They apply to ALL races, skin colors, religions, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicity and nation origins. In fact one of the very first cases to reach the US Supreme Court regarding hate crime laws had a to do with a group of Black men who attacked a White man because he was white. [Wisconsin v. Mitchell, 508 U.S. 47 (1993)]

    So your entire premise is false.

Comments are closed.