Brice Johnson, 19, of Springtown, has been charged with a federal hate crime for the beating last September of a man because of his sexual orientation.
The complaint was filed Feb. 12 in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth. Johnson has been in custody since his arrest on Sept. 10, and he made his initial appearance in federal court Thursday afternoon.
“Suspected crimes of this nature will simply not be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña. “With the assistance of all our partners, hate crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to the affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, in the early morning hours of Sept. 2, 2013, the adult male victim, identified as A.K., connected with Johnson through the cell phone application for MeetMe.com. A.K.’s MeetMe.com page indicated he was a gay man, while Johnson’s page indicated he was not gay. During their communications, Johnson allegedly said he was interested in engaging in sexual activity with A.K. and invited him to his home, gave A.K. his cell phone number and address and they reportedly exchanged text messages planning sexual activity.
After A.K. showed up at the house, Johnson allegedly beat him severely, then put him in the trunk of A.K.’s car and drove him to a friend’s home. Based on ligature marks on A.K.’s wrists, it appears that he was bound with an electrical cord while he was in the trunk of the car. Individuals at the home told Johnson to take A.K. to the hospital or they would call the police, and Johnson eventually drove the victim to an Emergency Medical Services station in Springtown.
A.K. was reportedly hospitalized for 10 days in Fort Worth with multiple skull and facial fractures. The investigation revealed that on the night of the incident, Johnson saved A.K.’s cell phone number, using a gay slur as a contact name, and Johnson later stated he was playing a prank on the victim because of his sexual orientation, again using a gay slur when referring to A.K. According to the affidavit, A.K. said that he had no physical contact with Johnson prior to the attack.
See more on this story in Sunday's Weatherford Democrat.