A horrifically violent attack on a gay Louisiana teen is now being prosecuted as a hate crime seven months after the incident took place.
In June 2020, Holden White, a teen from Lafayette, La., met up with a man he had met on Grindr for a first date. But when White got there, authorities say, Chance Seneca, 19, attacked him and left him almost for dead before calling the police. Seneca allegedly told the 911 operator that he had murdered a man and would wait for the police outside his home.
In the attack, White, who was only 18 at the time, was choked before his wrists and neck were cut and he was left bleeding in a bathtub. He recalls Seneca pulling out a cord early in the date and choking him until he blacked out.
"When I wake up, I am in his bathtub naked. The water is running, and it's cold,” White told The Advocate, a Louisiana newspaper unaffiliated with the LGBTQ+ publication. “He is in the process of doing my left wrist. It was to the point that he was basically trying to cut off my hands."
After slashing both White's wrists and neck, Seneca left White lying in the bathtub bleeding as he stood over him, according to the victim and prosecutors. “I was laying in the bathtub, naked, bleeding out, the water red and cold, and I remember thinking, 'Well, this is it,'” White recalled. “The last words I said to myself were just 'stay calm,' over and over and over in my head I was just repeating to myself to stay calm."
Initially, police said they weren’t going to seek a hate crime charge and thought that White’s sexuality had nothing to do with the attack. However, after time, they added the hate crime charge last week, which Assistant District Attorney Donald Knecht says carries a potential extra five-year prison sentence.
White has always maintained that he felt targeted by the attack because he is a gay man. "He chose to go on the app Grindr,” White told KATC, a local ABC and CW affiliate. “He went on an app designated for gay people. He chose to choose someone who is gay and very proud of his sexuality. He said this in prison. He said he chose me because I have a smaller stature and it would be easier to kill me. He knew what he was doing."
Seneca’s defense attorney, Clay LeJeune, says his client will be sticking with the not-guilty plea he initially entered when he was charged with attempted murder. “We're going to enter a not-guilty plea on this new charge," he said. "I haven't seen any indication of evidence that this was a hate crime, but ultimately the state will have to produce that.”