West Virginia judge to address hate-crime question in case

AP News
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Posted: Mar 01, 2016 10:20 AM

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia judge says he plans to rule whether a former Marshall University football player accused of assaulting two gay men after he saw them kissing on a city street can be charged with a hate crime.

Cabell County Circuit Judge Paul Farrell is presiding in the case of Steward Butler. The 24-year-old Huntington resident has pleaded not guilty to felony civil rights violations and misdemeanor battery.

The state Supreme Court had declined to hear a request by Farrell on whether state civil rights code includes violent actions directed at another person based solely on the victim's sexual orientation.

The Herald-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1XXQBWl ) reports that on Monday, Farrell asked for written arguments from prosecutors and the defense by March 21, after which he will take 10 days to make a decision.

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Information from: The Herald-Dispatch, http://www.herald-dispatch.com