Morgan Junction graffiti case not being prosecuted as hate crime

May 27, 2009 at 3:27 pm | In Crime, West Seattle news | 20 Comments

As promised, we followed up with the City Attorney’s Office regarding the status of Ryan Joshua Cox, the 31-year-old man arrested last week in connection with the anti-gay graffiti that had appeared in several spots around West Seattle, most notably and repeatedly a Morgan Junction couple’s garage door. Assistant city attorney Beth Gappert, who prosecutes cases in this area from her base at the Southwest Precinct, confirms that Cox is charged with six misdemeanor cases of property destruction-graffiti. He will not be prosecuted for malicious harassment, the felony that would indicate a hate crime; Gappert tells WSB, “The detective assigned to the case and I reviewed the evidence that was gathered as part of this incident. Based upon that, we determined the evidence was insufficient to prove that Mr. Cox acted ‘because of his perception of the victim’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory handicap’ per RCW 9A.36.080 (the Malicious Harassment statute).” So the case was not referred to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Cox is still jailed in lieu of $5,000 bail (upped last week, as reported here), according to the King County Jail Register. The Municipal Court website indicates another hearing is scheduled in his case tomorrow.

20 Comments

  1. I must be missing something in the explanation. Doesn’t the fact that a gay person – the victim – was hit with anti-gay graffiti sort of suggest the perp acted from his perception of the victim’s sexual orientation?

    Comment by bridge to somewhere — 3:39 pm May 27, 2009 #

  2. Agree. What’s going on here? I don’t see how the “powers that be” determined that this is not a hate crime.

    Comment by Jeannie — 4:33 pm May 27, 2009 #

  3. Maybe the guy was writing the same sort of stuff everywhere, regardless of location. Then it could be argued he was just expressing his opinion rather than committing a hate crime against a specific person.
    Either way I hope this guy gets some jail time and / or mental health evaluation and maybe some productive community service helping clean graffiti for awhile.

    Comment by MargL — 4:37 pm May 27, 2009 #

  4. As I understand it (disclaimer: not a lawyer), to prosecute as a hate crime you need evidence that the perpetrator did it because he/she actually is racist/homophobic/whatever, as opposed to, say, just trying to get people riled up (or throw investigators off the scent, like two guys back in my high school who tried to blow up the building and spray-painted swastikas all over everything. They weren’t Nazis, they just wanted the cops to think they were).

    Comment by datamuse — 4:39 pm May 27, 2009 #

  5. Those explanations make sense I suppose. But against the backdrop of the recent California judgment, I just can’t help but feel like we as a society can do a lot more for our LGB community

    Comment by bridge to somewhere — 5:02 pm May 27, 2009 #

  6. I agree with posting by a brige to somwehere.
    I’m pretty sure if it happened only once, maybe. Didn’t this happen a few times??

    Comment by 2w.seattlemoms — 5:06 pm May 27, 2009 #

  7. It did happen more than once on these gentlemen’s garage door. It also happened other places — Junction, a bus shelter, and several other spots.

    Comment by WSB — 5:19 pm May 27, 2009 #

  8. Regardless of whether how they classify it, can we do something with this type of NUT. These scumbags drive me nuts. They spend a lifetime stealing, destroying, hassling other people, but never enough to get ‘put away’ because it’s always charged as minor crimes (like this). So they can have 20 years worth of these type of offenses, hundred minor charges…and just keep doing it, over and over and over.

    Comment by HomeOnBeachDrive — 5:45 pm May 27, 2009 #

  9. My friend and former co worker was targeted at his home numerous times by Mr Cox. Mr Cox also confessed to vandelising my place of business three times ….. the very place where my friend worked. Gee, was this just by chance and not a case of being targeted ?????

    Comment by JW — 6:59 pm May 27, 2009 #

  10. I agree with these posts….I’d suggest you/we go down to king county court house and sit in on these mickey mouse “trials” (I am purposefully not using upper case letters as a show of disrespect.Grammatical thread person take note)
    Any-who.. my daughter was subpeonad as a witness to a crime ….with several other witnesses…I went with her just out of curiosity (she’s 21) omg…what a joke and a waste of tax payers money…he had several priors..not a good citizen, and I believe he got community service for beating the poop out of a 17 year old kid (again, priors and 6 witnesses) sighhhhhhhhhhhh…..no wonder these public defenders don’t want to defend/prosecute…they know how it works….I’ve got an idea….video these dog and pony shows/court cases and put them on public display (yes, I’d be willing to do it, video it, be there, just don’t know how to post it) ok….Now I’m rambling….as someone else often signs off……..I’m just sayin’
    wanted to check my spelling but gtg ( that’s code for gotta go :)

    Comment by Wilson — 7:10 pm May 27, 2009 #

  11. datamuse: >>”As I understand it (disclaimer: not a lawyer), to prosecute as a hate crime you need evidence that the perpetrator did it because he/she actually is racist/homophobic/whatever”
     
    Actually, no – as noted in WSB’s article, malicious harassment depends only on the perpetrator’s perception of the victim’s status. The perpetrator does not need to actually be anti-Semitic or homophobic, he/she merely needs to perceive the victim to be Jewish or gay or …
     
    Malicious harassment is “intentionally committing physical injury to another person, threatening or placing someone in reasonable fear of harm, or causing physical damage or property destruction against someone because of the perpetrator’s perception” of the victim’s status.
     
    It does beg the question how this wouldn’t qualify as a malicious harassment (hate) crime. The purpose of hate crime laws is to provide a stiffer penalty since the crime targets the entire class, not just the particular victim. A burned cross on the lawn of a black family, for instance, is perceived to be an attack on all black families, not just that particular one. This is what distinguishes hate crimes from other property crimes or crimes of violence. Bigger crimes, targeting multiple people or an entire class of people, merit bigger punishments.
     
    In this case, I don’t know what was written on the gay couples’ garage door, but what I saw written on a bus shelter on Fauntleroy was “F**S **** KIDS”. (I reported it and Metro took care of it by the next day.) As a gay person, I understand “f*g” to mean gay people. (I’m not sure the city attorney realizes that – apparently.) That slur was obviously directed at me and all other gay people and I wish it were being prosecuted as the hate crime that it is. I think the city attorney’s explanation is pretty weak.
     
    If it were only on the bus shelter or another anonymous place, one could perhaps claim that the perpetrator didn’t target a victim’s sexual orientation. But when it appears repeatedly on a gay couple’s house even after being removed, it stretches credibility.

    Comment by kennem — 6:26 pm May 27, 2009 #

  12. What BS!!!

    Comment by AD — 8:38 pm May 27, 2009 #

  13. Ah, ok. Thanks, kennem.

    Comment by datamuse — 9:48 pm May 27, 2009 #

  14. FWIW, while we (along with most, if not all, other media) had declined to report the exact language of the graffiti previously, and our filter held kennem’s comment for approval because of the vulgar slur word in it, we decided to let it go through because contextually, in the discussion of the decision authorities have made, it seems like important information. In case anyone was wondering. And that is the same phrase that was found on the Morgan Junction garage door, repeatedly – TR

    Comment by WSB — 10:09 pm May 27, 2009 #

  15. Yes, that’s the same phrase that I saw on a public stairway and park sign along Admiral…which have since been covered up.
    .
    I think part of the prosecutor’s issue is that the graffiti was in public spaces as well as on the couple’s garage. To get a conviction, then they’d have to prove that Cox knew the residents of that house were homosexual…and that it wasn’t just a coincidence. For example, the defense could argue that the garage door was just in a “convenient” site for graffiti.
    .
    Not saying I agree with the case, but I hope the prosecutor took a close look at the chances of getting a guilty verdict and made an educated decision.

    Comment by alki_2008 — 1:18 am May 28, 2009 #

  16. I seem to remember a post a while back by someone who actually saw this guy scrawling something near Easy Street Records. From her account, the guy seemed totally mentally messed up. My guess is he suffers from some sort of mental incapacitation and thus isn’t entirely cognizant of what he’s writing everywhere. With his rap sheet and everything, I wonder if he’s more an example of our failed mental health system than just a guy with criminal intentions.

    Comment by AJP — 9:25 am May 28, 2009 #

  17. wtf Mustafa

    Comment by 2w.seattlemoms — 1:00 am May 29, 2009 #

  18. Where’s Charles?

    Comment by wallflower — 11:12 am June 1, 2009 #

  19. Don’t know who Charles is, but Ryan J. Cox fwiw is still in jail, in lieu of $5K bail, as of this moment … TR

    Comment by WSB — 11:18 am June 1, 2009 #

  20. I agree Kennem, but I want to add my thoughts. This guy terrorized the Gay Community here in West Seattle. Our quiet neighborhood was terrorized by someone writing these epitaphs all over the place in West Seattle. Walking upon this on the Key Bank sign terrorized me to no end. Seattle has had numerous “Gay Bashings” (for those that don’t know what that means is that a Heterosexual had brutally beaten up a homosexual.) Why not put a sign up on the West Seattle Bridge “Gays Stay Out!” It’s only time where Gay BAshing is going to happen in West Seattle… Is Cox the man to do it? Or someone else. Make him the example which West Seattle will not put up with this kind of behavior.

    Gay Bashing in our City! Wake UP West Seattle!
    Sept 2008 http://www.sgn.org/sgnnews35_36/page2.cfm

    Feb 2009 http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2009/02/26/last_weekend_s_gay_bashing

    May 2009 http://www.examiner.com/x-264-Celebrity-News-Examiner~y2009m5d19-Woman-brutally-beaten-in-gaybashing-attack-at-Samantha-Ronson-gig

    Mentally unstable or not – this Cox guy put fear into West Seattle community(one of the tests according to law). Gay or Straight, Fear is fear, and terrorizing as it is, this guy needs to be treated accordingly and made an example. We have woken from a sleepy safe environment only to be terrorized by this man. A Village Lynching isn’t good enough nor do I think this guy should be in jail being taken care of by tax payer’s money. I know that I look over my shoulder a lot more now here in West Seattle. I shouldn’t have too but it’s only a matter of time.

    I really think that the prosecutor wants’ to play it safe and put this guy behind bars, but I’m sure his defense attorney will get him some mental excuse and he’ll be back on the streets very soon.

    I did sit down and read through the Washington State Law and I’m shocked at the wording. I thought we have come a lot further after Mathew Sheppard (for those who don’t know http://www.matthewshepard.org/site/PageServer ), so I guess I need to get my head out of the sand and start paying better attention…….

    Join your neighborhood watch group NOW!

    Comment by PinkFeathers — 7:42 pm June 1, 2009 #

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