Lyall B. Ziebell, 20, and Jake R. Immel-Rhode, 20, are each charged with battery causing great bodily harm and burglary, both as a party to the crime. The battery charge also carries a hate crime modifier, which increases the penalties.
If convicted, each man faces 23 years, six months imprisonment and $40,000 in fines.
According to the criminal complaint, Ziebell and Immel-Rhode were walking past PJ's Bar, 1601 Oregon St., at 2:15 a.m. on Dec. 25, when a man asked them for a cigarette in exchange for buying them a shot of liquor. The men went into the tavern, drank a shot and then went back outside to smoke a cigarette.
Ziebell told police he punched the man in the face after the man started "hitting on me," causing the victim to fall down onto a car. Immel-Rhode then began to kick the man's head, while shouting slurs about the man's sexuality.
The man had a broken jaw and a brain injury that required emergency surgery. He told police he was attacked, "because I'm gay," the complaint states.
Ziebell told police he is "very homophobic," according to the complaint.
We need to let lawmakers know that Gay Panic Defense will never fly as an excuse, and any jury would agree. Let's make sure they receive the full sentence.
This isn't just about recognizing their mistakes but making sure that the victim, and other victims, are given a clear message by Wisconsin, that what he/she/they endured at the hands of those who hate will not be forgotten and will not be accepted, and we will do everything in our power to make sure it never happens to anyone again.
Please help us set the bar higher in Wisconsin, and send a message to hateful individuals like Lyall Ziebell and Jason Immel-Rhode: What they did is never right, and never justifiable for any reason, and tolerance of their actions is completely unacceptable in civil society.