Associated Press Published

Judge to Address Hate-Crime Question in Case

Steward Butler

A West Virginia judge says he plans to rule whether a former Marshall University football player accused of assaulting two gay men after he saw them kissing on a city street can be charged with a hate crime.

Cabell County Circuit Judge Paul Farrell is presiding in the case of Steward Butler. The 24-year-old Huntington resident has pleaded not guilty to felony civil rights violations and misdemeanor battery.

The state Supreme Court had declined to hear a request by Farrell on whether state civil rights code includes violent actions directed at another person based solely on the victim’s sexual orientation.

The Herald-Dispatch reports Farrell on Monday asked for written arguments from prosecutors and the defense by March 21, after which he will take 10 days to make a decision.