SPRING, Texas – Prosecutors won't immediately seek hate-crime charges against two white teens accused of brutally beating and sodomizing a 16-year-old Hispanic boy, who was clinging to life after being left for dead, authorities said.
The two attacked the boy after he tried to kiss a 12-year-old girl at an unsupervised house party Saturday night in suburban Spring, authorities said.
The attackers, both of whom have juvenile criminal records, apparently were offended at the age difference between the victim and the girl, who is also Hispanic, and shouted racial slurs at him during the 10- to 15-minute attack, investigators said.
Authorities said the two dragged the boy from the party and into the yard, where they sodomized him with a plastic pipe from a patio table umbrella.
County prosecutor Mike Trent said the boy also had high levels of toxins in his organs, indicating the attackers may have poured bleach inside the pipe used to sodomize him. Doctors believe the boy, who was in critical condition Friday, passed out quickly and was unconscious for most of the attack.
"After they got him down on the ground, they stomped his head with (steel-toed) boots," Harris County Sheriff's Lt. John Denholm said. "They actually kicked the pipe further into him with the boots."
Trent described the pipe as being sharpened at one end. At one point, the teens tried to carve something on the boy's chest with a knife, he said in a cable news interview Friday.
"I don't know that the very beginning of the attack was racial," Trent said, "but there's no question that they were venting quite a bit of hatred in their hearts."
Trent said that adding hate-crime charges to the aggravated sexual assault faced by David Henry Tuck, 18, and Keith Robert Turner, 17, would have no legal effect.
Even if the victim dies, the charge would be upgraded to capital murder because of the sexual assault, making Tuck eligible for the death penalty. Turner is too young to be eligible for execution.
Both are charged with aggravated sexual assault, which carries a maximum of five years to life in prison. They were being held in the county jail. Charles Hinton, Tuck's attorney, did not return a call seeking comment. It was not known if Turner had an attorney.
If the two are convicted of aggravated sexual assault, jurors will be told during sentencing about the ethnic slurs used during the attack, Trent said.
"Whether it is one or isn't a hate crime, and it may be, that will make no difference here," Trent said. "This is already a first-degree felony and it can't be elevated any higher. There's nowhere to go beyond this, unless the victim dies."
The Anti-Defamation League wants prosecutors to add hate-crime charges even if it won't add to the penalties. "We want the public to accept and understand that this was a hate crime," regional director Martin Cominsky said.
The victim lay behind the house for more than 10 hours before he was found and someone called an ambulance. Trent said the attackers threatened partygoers with harm if they cooperated with the investigation.
The victim was a popular football player at Klein Collins High School who also posed for a fashion layout in the school yearbook, the Houston Chronicle reported. Because the boy is a juvenile sexual assault victim, The Associated Press will not identify him.
Dozens of postings from friends on the victim's Myspace.com page send wishes for recovery in styles ranging from Bible verses to obscene, rap-like poems urging violent ends for the attackers. The boy's last posting was Saturday, the day of the attack.