The suspect in a January knife assault against three men on Capitol Hill faces a federal hate crime charge according to court documents unsealed this week.
Prosecutors say Troy Deacon Burns threatened the men with a knife while yelling homophobic slurs near Harvard and Pike in the January 25th attack. Because the knife “travelled in interstate commerce,” prosecutors are charging the defendant in federal court:
According to investigators, Burns had been living in shelters, is addicted to drugs, and was on Capitol Hill to sell meth the night of the crime. Prosecutors identify him as a Bremerton, Washington resident.
The hate crime case helped spark a wave of concern this year about anti-gay bias crimes on Capitol Hill. Last week, Mayor Ed Murray’s LGBTQ task force released its report with recommendations for strengthening the gay community and increasing safety in the city. Other efforts underway include SPD’s Safe Place program and a new nighttime LGBTQ safety shuttle.
“When he signed the Shephard/Byrd Hate crimes prevention act into law, President Obama said ‘no one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hands of the person they love.’ It is just that sort of fear this defendant engendered with his attack,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes in a statement on the charge. “This federal prosecution demonstrates our commitment to protecting all the residents in our district from bias motivated attacks.”
If convicted, Burns faces up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
UPDATE 8/7/2015 1:30 PM: KING5 reports Burns has pleaded guilty.
Just in: 38yo Troy Burns of Bremerton has pleaded guilty in federal court for a January 2015 assault on three gay men on Capitol Hill.
— KING5Now (@KING5Now) August 7, 2015