Man Gets Four Years for Beating Transgender with Shovel
Crime Prosecuted as Hate Crime
[SAN DIEGO] - On June 26, Larry Patrick Gutierrez followed Phillip Martinez, a transgender man, and his friends as they left the Rainbow Bar and Grill, located at 4286 University Ave. in City Heights. Martinez and his friends quickly got in their car and rolled the windows up to protect themselves from Gutierrez, who bashed in the car window with a shovel and then proceeded to beat Martinez in the face with the shovel. On Friday, Oct. 4, Gutierrez was sentenced to four years in jail for the crime.
When the police arrived at the scene of the attack on June 26, Gutierrez claimed responsibility for the attack and pled guilty in court earlier this summer. However, the question of whether he would be sentenced for a hate crime remained open to Judge David Danielsen, who heard the case.
Selena Epley, the public defender assigned to the case, tried to defend her client, saying that no derogatory remarks about sexual orientation were mentioned during initial questioning. Only days later was it discussed.
"I think this is an example where there is an attempt to create a better story than what actually occurred," Epley argued before the court. "Mr. Gutierrez's version is more consistent with the facts."
Additionally, Epley argued that the attack was not a "categorical attack," which would give cause for the incident to be considered a hate crime. Gutierrez claimed that it was an individual attack resulting from a prior sexual contact with Martinez, at which time Gutierrez assumed that Martinez was a woman.
"After discovering that indeed Mr. Martinez was a man," Epley stated, "you can imagine that Mr. Gutierrez's humiliation, sense of betrayal, was quite substantial. He felt, as the court can imagine, betrayed and defrauded."
Deputy District Attorney Wendy Patrick argued that Gutierrez's story about the sexual contact changed over the course of the trial. At the scene of the crime, when being interviewed by the police, he claimed that the sexual contact had just occurred. Then, when speaking with a parole officer, he said that the contact occurred a week earlier.
"The victim and the witnesses in this case testified that they had nothing to do with this defendant," Patrick argued. "They were at the particular bar and, as they left the bar, this defendant comes after one of them. When Mr. Martinez tried to get in the car door the defendant was already going after him, already calling him a faggot and some choice words."
Patrick also cited that, dating back to 1995, Gutierrez has consistently had a conviction or true finding against him in court every year. Despite arguments from his defense attorney, Patrick said that his crimes had escalated in violence and that he deserved the maximum sentence for this crime.
"[Martinez] was targeted because he was dressed like a woman leaving that particular bar at that time of night," Patrick added. "I would argue it's worth four years, at least four years."
Before the sentencing, Judge Danielsen said, "Wherever the lies are in this thing, there are some things that come through loud and clear. This was a despicable act of violence, a terrifying act of violence, which could have resulted in a much more significant injury."
Danielsen sentenced Gutierrez to three years in jail for the assault, and an additional year for the hate crime circumstances.
Following the trial, Patrick spoke with the Gay and Lesbian Times about the case, saying, "What makes this crime really egregious is these people can't go out, they can't walk from the bar to their car, without worrying about getting attacked ? not because of anything they did, simply because of who they are and what they look like, and that's one of the things that distinguishes hate crimes from other types of crimes."
She went on to add, "There are a lot of things that we can do as citizens to protect ourselves from being victimized in a number of ways, but there is nothing we can do to protect ourselves from being victims of hate crimes."