By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com April 23 2003 12:00 AM ET
Three men beaten as they left a Florida gay pride party last year are upset that their attacker has been sentenced to only two years' house arrest plus four years' probation. Devin Scott Angus, 21, had faced up to 30 years in prison. He pleaded guilty earlier this month to charges of aggravated battery and battery with evidence of prejudice, a hate crime. Prosecutor John Terry asked the judge to give Angus a four-year prison sentence. Angus's attorney, Tim Taylor, asked the judge to give Angus two years in prison. Instead, Hillsborough circuit judge Chet Tharpe sentenced Angus to house arrest, probation, and 500 hours of community service.
Tharpe told Angus he was concerned that sending him to prison might have a detrimental effect on his rehabilitation. "I hope this judge isn't involved in any other discrimination cases, because evidently he doesn't know how to handle these," said Steven Hair, 26, who has been to the dentist 20 times to repair teeth knocked out by the beating he took from Angus.
The assault took place July 7, the last day of PrideFest, a six-day Tampa-St. Petersburg event. The victims, all from St. Petersburg, were leaving a party at the Florida Aquarium when Angus confronted them in a parking garage. Before attacking the men, Angus taunted them by dropping his pants and screaming obscenities. Sonny Gonzales, 35, received a head laceration; Hair suffered a skull fracture, a split sinus, and a broken front tooth; and Scott Boswell, 25, suffered a split lip.
At the sentencing hearing on Monday, Angus tearfully apologized to the victims, saying he was drunk when he attacked them. "I don't know why I did it," Angus said. "I don't hate homosexuals. I didn't hate you that night. I don't now."