The trial of David James Bell, the Utah man who was severely beaten after two missing children were discovered in his home, began Tuesday in Salt Lake City.
Bell is standing trial for two counts of child kidnapping and one count of second-degree felony burglary, but the defense claims Bell and his partner were victims of a hate crime.
Lulu Latu, Bell's next-door neighbor, discovered the two children, her 2-year-old daughter and 4-year-old nephew, after a Fourth of July celebration in 2008. Latu had invited Bell's partner, Dan Fair, to the festivities, which continued until the children were discovered missing at about 6:30 a.m.
Upon finding the children in her neighbor's upstairs bedroom, Lulu slapped Bell and told him to, "lock his doors," reports TheSalt Lake Tribune. Soon after, a group of five individuals forced entry into Bell's home and proceeded to beat him and Fair.
Dragged out of his home by his hair, Bell's head was then repeatedly smashed against the pavement and a piece of broken glass was used to cut his throat, chest, and one of his toes. The men also allegedly dropped a television set onto Fair's head.
"Gay does matter in this case. It played a role in the conclusions people jumped to that morning," defense attorney Susanne Gustin told jurors, reports TheSalt Lake Tribune.
According to testimony, Bell told officers he wanted to take the children to his house so they could sleep on the couch since the celebration had extended into the early morning.
The trial is expected to conclude on Friday. If convicted on all felony counts, Bell could face 15 years to life in prison.
No one has been charged for the beatings incurred by Bell or Fair.