Thursday, February 12, 2015

Guilty! Omaha prosecutors do a remarkable job in winning anti-gay hate crime conviction

Langenegger (left) and Duncan
Gregory Duncan, of Kansas City, has been convicted of third degree assault with discrimination in his October 2013 attack on straight former Marine Ryan Langenegger outside a Pepperjax restaurant in Omaha's Old Market.
     Duncan, 10 inches taller and 90 pounds heavier than Langenegger, claimed he was defending his friend, Joey Adriano, who was harassing Langenegger's gay friends with vulgar and homophobic epithets.
     Duncan claimed Langenegger shoved Adriano, but Adriano said at trial he couldn't confirm that because he was too fucked up to remember being at Pepperjax at all that night.
     Duncan's other drinking buddy, Omaha attorney Paul Larson, also refused to corroborate Duncan's accusation.
     This case is remarkable for several reasons:
  • It is thought to be the first Douglas County hate crime conviction for sexual orientation bias
  • Langenegger, the man assaulted, is not gay and it wasn't argued at trial that he was perceived to be gay
  • Duncan, the man convicted, was not accused by anyone of uttering any antigay epithets
     Despite all this, the prosecutor, deputy Douglas County attorney Jim Masteller, won a hate crime conviction from an Omaha, Nebraska jury of five men and seven women in less than three hours against one of the city's slickest and best-known criminal defense lawyers, James Martin Davis.
     Compounding Masteller's challenge was that video of the interior of Pepperjax did not seem to support the accounts of the victims he was representing.
     Remember this the next time prosecutors in your community whine about how hard it is to get a hate crime conviction.
     Defense attorney Davis*, who said he will appeal, probably did his client no favors when he suggested that Duncan may have been disturbed by the appearance of "sidewalk sex" by Langenegger's friends when one, in drag and drunk, was actually having his shoes put on by the other.
     Also: never underestimate the power of a bloody photograph disseminated widely on the Internet.
     Also: Having your client show up in a pink shirt won't necessarily convince a jury — even in Nebraska — that you're not a homophobe.

*James Martin Davis, when he's not busy trying to destroy the credibility of gay plaintiffs in court or insinuating in front of TV news cameras that they are sexually dissolute in public, can be a fun guy. Supposedly it was Davis who said, during the Franklin Credit Union scandal back in the 1980s, that Omaha might become the first city in human history to gossip itself to death.

1 comment:

  1. YESDAMMITYES!! Thank you for keeping on this story, Aksarbent. This is excellent news to start my day with, though I'll admit I'm surprised that they got the hate-crime enhancement it just makes it all the sweeter.