A 38-year-old Bremerton, Washington man pleaded guilty today to a federal hate crime under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act, for a January 2015 assault on three gay men, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes, Western District of Washington and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Troy Deacon Burns, will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge James L. Robart on November 10, 2015.
According to the plea agreement, just after midnight on January 25, 2015 three gay men were walking on East Pike Street toward Broadway in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood when Burns came up behind them and shouted homophobic slurs. Burns was holding a knife, which he raised up over his head in a stabbing position. Fearing for their safety the men started running. As Burns caught up to one of the men he again used a slur as he attempted to stab him. One of the other men was able to pull his friend away from Burns. The third man located Seattle Police Officers who took Burns into custody. While detained in the patrol car, Burns continued to yell homophobic slurs. Burns was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the assault and says that he does not remember his actions.
The case was investigated by the Seattle Police Department and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bruce Miyake and Saeed Mody, Trial Attorney, Civil Rights Division, United States Department of Justice. The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is providing significant assistance with the case.