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Attackers Sentenced in Horrifying Torture of Gay Texas Man

Attackers Sentenced in Horrifying Torture of Gay Texas Man


The men were sentenced under a federal hate-crimes law named for Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr.

Two men convicted of a horrific attack on a gay black man in Texas have been sentenced to the maximum 15 years behind bars, reports The Washington Post.

The heinous attack reportedly stemmed from the unidentified victim's unpaid $5 bet.

Ramiro Serrata, 23, and Jimmy Garza, 33, were sentenced by a federal judge Wednesday, according to court documents filed by the Justice Department, the Post reports.

The men, who are white, pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to commit hate crimes and to violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The law is named after Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming who was murdered in 1998, and also for Byrd, a black man dragged to death by men in a pickup truck in Texas in 1998.

Prosecutors told the court Serrata, 23, and Garza, 33, tortured the victim over three hours in a Corpus Christi apartment in March 2012. According to court documents, the men punched and kicked the man, pummeled him with a frying pan, a mug, and a broom, and struck him with a belt and a sock that contained a battery.

But that was not all they did. They also poured bleach into the victim's eyes, sodomized him with the broom handle, and pistol-whipped him, according to prosecutors.

And when the victim started to bleed, prosecutors said, the men forced him to strip off all his clothes and clean up the blood. Throughout the three-hour ordeal, Serrata and Garza were said to have used racial and antigay slurs. Prosecutors added that they called the man a slave while whipping him with the belt.

According to court documents, the man finally escaped by jumping from an apartment window and running away. He was found by police, who also arrested a third man, Carlos Garcia Jr., who pleaded guilty to making false statements to a law enforcement officer. Garcia is awaiting sentencing, according to the Post.

Enacted in 2009, the law named for Shepard and Byrd expanded the federal definition of hate crimes -- which covered attacks motivated by race, color, religion, or national origin -- to include those based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The law also makes an attack U.S. military personnel because of their service a federal offense.

"These crimes violate both our civil rights laws and most basic national value," Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, who heads the Justice Department Civil Rights Division, said in a statement.

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