The Atlanta man police say poured boiling water on a sleeping gay couple could face up to 80 years in prison. On Friday, Fox 5 Atlanta reports that a grand jury in Fulton County indicted 48-year-old Martin Blackwell for two counts of aggravated battery and eight counts of aggravated assault.
Blackwell is being prosecuted for the alleged February 12 attack on Anthony Gooden, 23, and Marquez Tolbert, 21. As The Advocate previously reported, Blackwell discovered the couple resting in the College Park apartment Gooden shared with his mother. Blackwell didn't live at the home, but he was in a relationship with Gooden's mother for the past three years.
Blackwell was reportedly “disgusted” by the couple's relationship. After Blackwell allegedly threw a pot of boiling water on the couple, he yelled: “Get out of my house with all that gay.” The men reported that Blackwell dragged them out of the front door following the attack.
The two men were rushed to the hospital after sustaining serious injury, including second and third-degree burns all over their arms, neck, and back. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Tolbert underwent a skin graft, replacing the severely scarred skin across his back with skin from his thigh. “The pain doesn’t let you sleep,” said Tolbert, reports Atlanta's WSB TV. “It’s just like it’s excruciating 24 hours a day.”
Since getting out of the hospital, Gooden told WSB that his goal is to get well and to get justice for the attack. “I just want Martin to be gone,” he said. “I want him to be prosecuted. I want a full recovery. I want to get the feeling back in my arms. I want my skin to come back. I want to move and walk real good and feel like I'm back to normal.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigations is currently investigating the incident as a hate crime. Georgia does not recognize antigay hate crimes in its statutes. Only 17 states in the U.S. have hate-crimes laws that cover both sexual orientation and gender identity. However, if the federal government becomes involved, Blackwell could be prosecuted under federal hate-crimes law.
Tolbert told WSB that he believes the attack should be classified as an act of hate. “Why else would you pour boiling hot water on somebody?” he asked. “Why would you do this?'