Councilmember Phil Mendelson doesn't like the way the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District is handling the murder case of Tony Randolph Hunter. Mendelson (D-At Large) fired off a letter to Acting U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips this afternoon saying that he is "alarmed" that the office is offering a plea deal to alleged murderer Robert Hannah.
Hunter, 37, of Clinton, was attacked last September at Eighth and N Streets NW when he was walking with a friend to a popular gay bar. He died ten days after the beating. The crime galvanized the gay community and more than 200 people attended a community vigil. Police initially said they were considering the possibility that the assault was motivated by anti-gay bias but later said they found no evidence it was a hate crime.
Police issued an arrest warrant for manslaughter but according to Mendelson's letter, Hannah was prosecuted for misdemeanor assault and the U.S. Attorney's Office is proposing a plea deal.
Mendelson told Phillips he thinks there should be a trial.
"Although your office has a version of the events based on the evidence, the better version is the one that results from the adversarial process of a trial, whereby evidence is tested. Proceeding with a trial renders a more complete and accurate version of what happened," the councilmember wrote.
Meanwhile, friends of Hunter have created a Facebook page. A description reads: "This page is in reaction to Tony's murder and the questionable actions of the court and police in the prosecution of his attacker."
D.C. Wire has requested a comment from Ben Friedman, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office. We'll update if we get a response.