Morehouse College gay-bashing trial begins

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com June 10 2003 11:00 PM ET

Gregory Love, the plaintiff in Georgia's first-ever hate-crime trial, said Monday that fellow Morehouse College student Aaron Price screamed that he hated gays while attacking him with a baseball bat in a dorm shower. Price, 19, is charged with assault and battery in the November beating. Prosecutors say Price thought Love was making a sexual advance when he looked in Price's shower stall. He quickly became enraged, "yelling and screaming again, stating that I was gay and he hates Morehouse College and all these fags," said Love, who testified that Price struck him repeatedly. Attorneys for Price argued that their client was simply defending himself against harassment from a man who is much larger than he is. Defense attorney Woody Sampson told the jury that Price retrieved the bat, "not with the intention of going down and beating Gregory Love to death...but with the intent to tell Gregory Love, 'This is where I live. I have to come down to the shower every day, and you're not going to be messing with me.'"

Sampson said Price struck Love only once and then left to call his girlfriend and his father, who is a minister. Love suffered a fractured skull in the attack; he has since recovered. Of the attack, Love said he only glimpsed at Price, who has since been expelled from Morehouse, because he didn't have his glasses on and mistook Price for his roommate.

If convicted of aggravated assault and aggravated battery, Price could receive a maximum of 20 years for each count. Fulton County is prosecuting the case as a hate crime, which could add five years to a sentence if Price is convicted. The attack evoked strong emotions at Morehouse, a historically black college where, some gay students say, homophobia is rampant.