Weatherford Democrat

February 23, 2014

Feds charge teen with hate crime

Case involves alleged beating of man because of his sexual orientation


Weatherford Democrat

— By CHRISTIN COYNE

A Springtown man accused of luring a gay man he met through a social networking site to his home and severely beating him has been charged with a federal hate crime.

The FBI filed a federal criminal complaint against Brice Johnson, 19, earlier this month, accusing him of brutally attacking 24-year-old Arron Keahey because of Keahey’s sexual orientation.

According to investigators, the two began conversing through MeetMe.com, where Keahey’s profile listed him as a gay man and Johnson’s did not.

After the two men chatted for some time, Johnson indicated he was interested in engaging in sexual activity with Keahey, inviting him to the Springtown home he shared with his family and giving him his phone number, according to the federal complaint.

The two men also reportedly exchanged a series of explicit text messages regarding planned sexual activity and directions to Johnson’s home.

When the two met up around 5:30 a.m. Sept. 2, Johnson came outside to meet Keahey and, after a brief interaction, severely beat Keahey, investigators say.

Keahey was reportedly put into the trunk of Keahey’s car and driven to the home of a friend of Johnson’s, where the friend told Johnson to take him to the hospital.

Investigators believe Keahey was bound with an electrical cord, leaving ligature marks on his wrists, during this time.

Around 7 a.m., Johnson dropped Keahey off at the LifeCare station in Springtown.

According to reports, Johnson initially told police that he found Keahey beaten and in the trunk of his car and saw a black truck driving away. However, he later admitted to inviting Keahey over and hitting Keahey before blacking out, saying Keahey made an unwanted advance (something Keahey denies), according to Springtown police. Johnson reportedly said he initially believed Keahey was dead.

Since his arrest Sept. 10 on a state aggravated assault charge, Johnson has been in jail.

“I invited this guy over, right,” Johnson allegedly told his family members in a recorded phone call from the Parker County Jail. “At first it was basically like a joke that went too far and too wrong. I invited him over because he was a [derogatory term for a gay person] or whatever.”

“Suspected crimes of this nature will simply not be tolerated,” U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Sarah R. Saldaña said in a statement Friday.  “With the assistance of all our partners, hate crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

“We will thoroughly investigate all suspected violations of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in our community,” Special Agent in Charge of FBI Dallas Division Diego Rodriguez said.

Keahey, who was hospitalized for 10 days, said his skull and facial fractures required facial reconstruction surgery and the beating caused brain trauma and memory loss that is still affecting him.

He’s also suffered anxiety and depression and has had trouble rebuilding his life since the incident, according to Keahey.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to assist Keahey with medical and day-to-day expenses since the attack and can be found at: www.gofundme.com/69haaw.