Two men have pleaded guilty in an attack on a transgender woman at a Minneapolis light rail station in February, in a plea agreement that the Minneapolis City Council president, Andrea Jenkins, says is unjust.
Kevin York, 23, of St. Paul pleaded guilty Monday in Hennepin County court to third-degree assault, local TV station WCCO reports. As a result of a plea deal, the court dismissed a charge of first-degree aggravated robbery. Last week, Keaten Morris, 19, of Minneapolis also pleaded guilty to third-degree assault, and likewise in his case, the robbery charge was dropped.
They are expected to be sentenced to four months in jail each, according to Minnesota Public Radio. Sentencing has been set for July.
The attack occurred on February 27 at Minneapolis’s Lake Street Station. The victim, whose name has not been made public, suffered “a broken rib, a collapsed lung and cranial bleeding, MPR reports. She was in critical condition when she was taken to a hospital, but she was released after her condition stabilized.
Security video showed three people assaulting the woman, but police could locate only Morris and York, who had boarded a train and gotten off at another station.
Police initially were concerned that the attack was motivated by anti-trans bias, but after investigators listened to audio from the security system, the Hennepin County Attorney’s office determined that this was not the case and therefore did not seek hate-crime enhancements.
“The evidence is that this was not an assault motivated by bias, and the plea agreement holds the defendants accountable for the conduct that did occur,” Nicholas Kimball, a spokesperson for the county attorney’s office, said in a statement to MPR.
Minnesota law calls for the men to serve “80 days of their 120-day sentences in the Hennepin County Workhouse and the rest on supervised release,” the radio station reports. Morris has been released to await sentencing, while York remains in custody in connection with a separate charge.
City Council President Andrea Jenkins, who is a trans woman, was deeply critical of the plea agreement, and she differed with the assessment that the attack was unrelated to the victim's trans identity.
"I am deeply dismayed by this plea agreement," she told TheAdvocate via email. "The victim suffered a brutal attack because of her gender identity, which placed her and other trans-identified women at significant risk. As a community, we deserve more."