- Judge Todd MarkleJudge
We Want All Charges Against Luke O'Donovan to Be Dropped
On New Year’s Eve of 2013, Luke O’Donovan attended a house party in Reynoldstown, a neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia. Luke was seen dancing with and kissing other men at the party. Later in the night he was insulted with homophobic slurs, and attacked by several people at one time. Several witnesses have reported watching between 5 and 12 men ganging-up on Luke and stomping on his head and body, evidently with the intent to kill him. Luke was called a faggot before and during the attack. He attempted to escape the belligerent mob many times. His attackers chased him out into the street where he was eventually able to break away and escape into the safety of an acquaintance’s passing car. In the course of the attack, Luke and five others were stabbed. Luke was subsequently imprisoned and charged with five counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He spent two and a half weeks in jail without bond before being released under bond conditions that have drastically affected Luke’s life. None of the other individuals involved in the altercation were charged.
In April, Luke was re-indicted with an additional charge, and now faces five charges of felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one charge of attempted murder. After over a year of waiting, Luke’s self-defense immunity hearing occurred in July of this year. Luke was denied immunity, but the defense feels that the hearing went well for Luke.
At the immunity hearing, the prosecution made a series of ludicrous claims in order to prop up their case. They made a point of asking every witness whether or not the term “faggot” was offensive, or just a synonym for other “non-offensive” terms like “pussies or bitches,” and later used the word “nigger” as another example of a “non-offensive” term. The prosecution’s attempt to neutralize such blatantly homophobic words make it clear that the New Year’s incident is not a singular event, but part of a greater social problem of homophobia.
Since the May 13th immunity hearing, one of the so-called victims in Luke’s trial was seen in footage of a horrific transphobic attack which occurred just outside of the Stratosphere skate shop in Little 5 Points, a neighborhood in northeast Atlanta. This attack captured the interests of media outlets and provoked outrage in many Atlantans. Just a few weeks prior to this attack, two trans women were accosted, beaten, and stripped nude on a MARTA train by a group of men while on their way home. We find these attacks disturbing and wrong — and hope that the incident involving Luke will be understood as a part of this larger context.
Following the denial of immunity, the case will now move on to trial by jury. Although Luke was denied immunity, we are still hopeful that the trial will proceed favorably for Luke. While the burden of evidence for the immunity hearing rested upon the defense (Luke and his lawyer and witnesses), the burden of evidence for the trial will rest on the prosecution. At trial, arguments for self-defense can still be made. We have just received notice that the trial will begin on Monday, August 11.
In the year and a half since the incident, much has been accomplished: the original media narrative which painted Luke as a deranged aggressor was successfully challenged; over thirteen thousand dollars have been raised; and people across the country and the world have displayed their support. For more information about Luke’s case and ways you can show support beyond this petition, please visit letlukego.com
Judge Todd Markle
It is my view that Luke O’Donovan acted in self-defense against a homophobic attack. I insist that the right to self-defense be recognized in cases of violence against members of the gay and queer community. I fully support Luke. I hope that you will drop the charges unjustly brought against him.
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