Criminal Justice News

Monday, August 17, 2015

Two Texas Men Indicted for Federal Hate Crime Against Gay, African-American Man



A federal grand jury has returned a four-count indictment against two Texas men alleging hate crime offenses for their roles in a Mar. 8, 2012, assault of a gay, African-American man in Corpus Christi, Texas, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas.

The indictment charges Jimmy Garza Jr., 32, and Ramiro Serrata Jr., 22, with conspiracy to commit hate crimes, a hate crime violation based on race and color, a hate crime violation based on sexual orientation and using a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence.  The indictment was returned under seal Aug. 12, 2015, and unsealed upon the arrest of Serrata, of Robstown, Texas, on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015.  He made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jason Libby today, at which time the government requested he remain in custody pending further criminal proceedings.  A detention hearing has been set for Aug. 20, 2015.  Garza, of Corpus Christi, Texas, is currently in custody on unrelated charges and is expected to be transferred to federal custody and make an appearance on these charges on Aug. 24, 2015.

The indictment alleges that on Mar. 8, 2012, Garza and Serrata conspired to assault a gay, African-American man because of his race, color and sexual orientation.  According to the indictment, the defendants invited the man into an apartment in Corpus Christi then assaulted him while calling him racial and homophobic epithets.  Over the course of approximately three hours, the conspirators allegedly punched and kicked the man and assaulted him with various dangerous weapons, including, among other things, a frying pan, a coffee mug, a belt and a chair.  During the assault, the conspirators poured a household cleaning agent or chemical solution onto the man’s face and eyes, pistol whipped him with a handgun and whipped him with a belt, according to the allegations.

When the man began to bleed, the defendants allegedly forced him to remove all of his clothing and clean up the blood throughout the apartment.  The indictment further alleges that after the man was completely naked, the defendants sodomized him using a broom or mop and another unknown object.

Throughout the assault, the conspirators repeatedly called the man racial and homophobic slurs and made other anti-black and anti-gay statements, according to the indictment.  The conspirators also allegedly prevented the man from leaving the apartment by physical force and threats of force.  The man eventually escaped the apartment by jumping out of a window.

An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. 

If convicted, both Garza and Serrata face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Corpus Christi Resident Agency with assistance from the Corpus Christi Police Department and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Jared Fishman and Nicholas Durham of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ruben Perez of the Southern District of Texas.

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