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Charges dropped
against gay-bashing victim who fought back

Charges dropped
against gay-bashing victim who fought back


A judge threw out a manslaughter charge against a 21-year-old gay man who fatally stabbed a teenager who, with a group of six others, allegedly attacked him because of his sexual orientation.

A judge on Thursday threw out a manslaughter charge against a man who fatally stabbed a teenager who allegedly attacked him because he is gay. Lucas Dawson, 21, was walking from his home in Philadelphia's East Mount Airy neighborhood on October 29 to catch a bus downtown, where he planned to meet with friends to discuss his audition for the TV show American Idol the day before. Dawson said Gerald Knight, 17, and six others began taunting him, chased him down, and started beating him. Dawson pulled out a small knife and waved it at the teens. After Knight punched him, Dawson said he stabbed him in the chest; Knight died within an hour. Dawson called police after the attack and led them to the knife. He was charged with manslaughter. Defense attorney Kevin T. Birley argued that Dawson had feared for his life. "This is a hate crime. My client was attacked because of his sexuality," Birley told municipal judge Gerard Kosinski on Wednesday. "He did the only thing he could do, the only thing in his power to stop the attack." Because Dawson tried to retreat and because there were multiple attackers, Kosinski said criminal charges were not warranted. He ordered that Dawson, who had been jailed, be released. Asst. Dist. Atty. M.K. Feeney praised Dawson for turning himself in to police, who had no suspect in the case. But she argued that a jury should decide whether Dawson's actions were self-defense. Knight was stabbed more than once, she said, but Dawson required no medical care for his injuries from the beating. Feeney said her office would review the judge's decision and decide whether to appeal. Dawson said he plans to leave home now because he fears retaliation. "I mean, seven guys jumped me and one guy died," he said. "That's still six other people that want to hurt me." (AP)

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