SAN FRANCISCO - Wire Reports - San Francisco prosecutors say they plan to challenge a judge's decision to dismiss hate crime allegations against two men charged with beating a transgender woman in the city's Mission District.
District Attorney George Gascon said Superior Court Judge Bruce Chan ruled at the end of the suspects' preliminary hearing late Wednesday that the suspects assaulted the 20-year-old woman while trying to rob her of her cell phone, not because of her gender identity.
Gascon says his office nonetheless plans to refile the hate crime enhancement when the case goes to trial before a different judge. He says he wants to send a message that violence against transgender people will not be tolerated.
Assistant District Attorney Victor Hwang says the suspects made comments before and after assaulting the woman indicating they knew she was transgender.
Lionel Jackson, 32, and Maurice Perry, 37, are accused of attacking the woman on April 1 outside the BART station at the intersection of Mission and 16th streets and taking her smartphone.
When she demanded the phone back, the pair allegedly punched her, knocking her to the ground, where they also allegedly kicked her, police said.
Alexandra Byerly, who was passing out condoms nearby as part of an HIV prevention campaign, testified on Monday in the preliminary hearing that as the suspects were fleeing the attack, one of them said, "Oh, I hate men dressed up as women."
The two men were arrested shortly after the theft.
When the preliminary hearing ended late Wednesday afternoon, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Bruce Chan ordered Jackson and Perry to stand trial on charges of assault, second-degree robbery and violating the victim's civil rights, but dismissed felony hate crime allegations against the pair, district attorney's office spokesman Seth Steward said.