September 24, 2015

Second Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Hate Crime Against Gay African-American Man

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX—A second Texas man has pleaded guilty to hate crime offenses for his role in a Mar. 8, 2012, assault of a gay African-American man in Corpus Christi, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

Jimmy Garza, 33, pleaded guilty in federal court in Corpus Christi today to one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes and one count of a hate crime violation based on the victim’s sexual orientation.

During the plea hearing, Garza admitted that he and others conspired to assault a gay African-American man because of his race and sexual orientation. Garza admitted that during the assault, he and his co-conspirators punched and kicked the man, and assaulted him with various weapons, including a frying pan, a mug, a sock filled with batteries, a broom and a belt.

Garza admitted that when the victim began to bleed, the conspirators forced him to remove all of his clothing and clean up the blood throughout the apartment. After the victim was completely naked, Garza held a gun to the victim’s head, while a co-conspirator sodomized the victim with a broom handle. During the assault, Garza poured bleach onto the victim’s face and eyes, and struck him with a handgun. The conspirators also whipped the victim on the back with a belt.

Garza acknowledged that throughout the assault, the conspirators repeatedly called the victim racial and homophobic slurs and made other anti-black and anti-gay statements.

Garza will be sentenced on Dec. 9, 2015, and faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. He will remain in custody pending that hearing. Co-defendant Ramiro Serrata Jr. pleaded guilty to the same hate crime charges in connection with this offense on Sept.15, 2015. He is also set for sentencing on Dec. 9, 2015.

“The gruesome evidence heard in today’s plea of guilty underscores the importance of prosecuting hate crimes under our authority to protect the civil rights of all our citizens,” said Magidson. “These cases will continue to be a high priority of our office.”

“The federal hate crime to which Jimmy Garza Jr. and Ramiro Serrata Jr. pleaded guilty to was as shocking as it was reprehensible,” said Gupta. “The Department of Justice will continue to use every tool at its disposal to vindicate the rights of victims of violent crime.”

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Corpus Christi Resident Agency with assistance from the Corpus Christi Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ruben Perez and Trial Attorneys Jared Fishman and Nicholas Durham of the Civil Rights Division.