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Sentence for hate crime: one year

Timothy Kincaid

December 14th, 2009

On Aug. 9, 2008, Carlos Lopez was enjoying an outing at Ensign Park in Utah when Fa MoiMoi approached him and asked Lopez to take his picture. MoiMoi then asked Lopez, 18, if he was gay. When he didn’t respond, MoiMoi began punching him.

MoiMoi, along with several of his friends, beat Lopez, his sister, and his aunt. Carlos Lopez suffered severe head trauma, including an broken orbital bone, and required major reconstructive surgery.

Fortunately, the picture provided evidence and police were able to identify the primary attacker. But by then MoiMoi had fled to Hawaii. In February he was arrested and brought back to Utah where he faced two charges of aggravated assault, one of which was enhanced to a first-degree felony because it was a hate crime.

On Friday he received his sentence (SL Tribune)

[MoiMoi] was charged with one count of first-degree felony aggravated assault and two counts of class A misdemeanor assault. On Friday, he pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree felony aggravated assault and the other charges were dismissed.

In addition to jail time, MoiMoi must complete 200 hours of community service, write a letter of apology to the victims, obtain his high school diploma and pay medical restitution of more than $36,500.

I don’t wish to overreact.

I know that a plea deal is quite useful when a district attorney is uncertain that evidence can conclusively place a perpetrator at the scene or when there are no witnesses. But this hardly seems to be a difficult case to prosecute.

I can sympathize when a situation gets out of hand and a punch gets thrown. But this was a gang of men attacking two women and a boy resulting in reconstructive surgery on his face.

One count.

Third degree.

One year.

I just can’t help but wonder if Lopez had been sent to the hospital in Utah with his facial bones broken because he was Mormon whether perhaps, just perhaps, the crime might have been taken more seriously.

Comments

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WMDKitty
December 14th, 2009 | LINK

Ugh. Just one more example of how crimes against LGBTI folks just aren’t taken seriously.

Désirée
December 15th, 2009 | LINK

I rather like the restitution part. Seriously, $36,000? That’s more than a year’s salary for me. Paying that back will financially cripple an ex-con (which is what MoiMoi will be). His useful life is over.

cowboy
December 15th, 2009 | LINK

You have to wonder if it’s racism and not any church affiliation that had anything to do with how justice was meted in this case. Gang warfare between Asian and Latin gangs in Utah is a chronic problem.

I am aware of the David Bell and Dan Fair’s experience with the South Salt Lake police when a neighbor sent over thugs to beat them up for a “misunderstanding”. There is an element of gay hysteria that factors into both of these instances but I don’t think it is directly related to whether they are Mormon or not.

palerobber
December 15th, 2009 | LINK

this is the second incident in the last year highlighted by this blog involving hate crimes perpetrated by pacific islanders against gays in SLC.

i have no idea whether these were isolated incidents or whether they reflect a pervasive and culturally reinforced animosity within one of our minority communities here in salt lake.

but i do know that niether case had anything to do with the mormons and find it odd that people would bring up that community while ignoring the elephant in the room, so to speak.

Bruce Garrett
December 16th, 2009 | LINK

The elephant in the room is the effect on a community of the prejudices of its church leaders.

Yes, yes…there is the issue of why those particular attackers gay bashed Lopez. And his sister. And his aunt. But it is eminently reasonable to question whether that attacker’s punishment was less severe because the victim was gay, in a state absolutely dominated by the Mormon church, and given the institutionalized anti-gay animus of that church.

It doesn’t always have to be ranting and raving about the homosexual menace. It’s about sympathy. Empathy. Can you see yourself in the victim’s shoes? Is the victim your neighbor, or some fearful Other? The prosecuting attorney may have decided that it was better to get what he could then let it go to a Utah jury, where the defense could have quite easily played on the fear and loathing towards homosexuals that the Mormon church as so relentlessly cultivated over the decades. Moi Moi might have gotten off scot-free, and with a letter of thanks from the good citizens. A Mormon basher, not so much.

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