A Georgia man who poured boiling-hot water on a sleeping gay couple was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Martin Blackwell was convicted of aggravated battery and aggravated assault Wednesday in Fulton County superior court. Judge Henry Newkirk noted that Blackwell's premeditated attack on couple Anthony Gooden and Marquez Tolbert was both targeted and preventable--not the offshoot of so-called "reckless behavior," as Blackwell's defense attorney tried to argue.
"You had so many outs where the voice of reason could have taken over," Newkirk said.
Blackwell faced up to 80 years in prison. While Georgia has no hate crimes law, the FBI has opened a hate-crimes investigation into the attack.
Gooden and Tolbert were severely burned by the attack and said in court they still required assistance eating and managing their lives months after the attack.
In attacks against LGBT people, sentencing varies widely from state to state, case to case. In New York, two men who beat a young gay man while he was walking home--bruising his face until they left permanently blind in one eye--only received 150 hours of community service for the crime.