Georgia man gets 40 years for pouring hot water on gay couple | News | DW | 25.08.2016
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Georgia man gets 40 years for pouring hot water on gay couple

A judge in the southern US state of Georgia has sentenced a man to 40 years in prison for throwing boiled water over a gay couple. "It takes a long time for a pot of water to boil," the judge said.

Jurors found 48-year old long-distance truck driver Martin Blackwell guilty on eight counts of aggravated battery and two counts of aggravated assault in the February attack on Anthony Gooden and Marquez Tolbert.

Tolbert and Gooden - who is the son of Kim Foster, Blackwell's girlfriend - had been dating about a month at the time of the attack. On February 12, they were sleeping at Foster's sister's apartment, where Blackwell lived with Foster when he was in town, when Blackwell dumped boiled water on them.

"It takes a long time for a pot of water to boil," Fulton County Superior Court Judge Henry Newkirk said, adding that the evidence was overwhelming. Blackwell had behaved in a "soulless and malicious way," he said.

"You had so many outs where the voice of reason could have taken over," the judge told Blackwell, who had faced up to 80 years in prison.

Prosecutors had alleged it was a vicious, premeditated attack.

Blackwell's defense attorney acknowledged that he poured water on the pair, but asked jurors to find that it was reckless conduct. "It's not about hate. It's about old-school culture, old-school thinking," Monique Walker told the jury. The defense didn't call any witnesses and didn't present any evidence.

Georgia doesn't have a hate crime law. The FBI said in March that it had opened a hate crime investigation, but spokesman Kevin Rowson said Wednesday that the agency isn't commenting on that probe.

Gooden, 24, spent about a month in the hospital, two weeks of that in a medically induced coma, and Tolbert, 21, spent 10 days in hospital. Both men suffered severe burns beeding multiple surgeries and skin grafts.

jbh/kl (AP, AFP)

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