October 16, 2015

Texas Man Sentenced for Hate Crime Involving the Assault of Elderly African-American Man

WASHINGTON—A man from Katy, Texas, has been ordered to federal prison to serve a 71 month sentence following his conviction of a federal hate crime related to the racially-motivated assault of an 81-year-old African-American man, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas and Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI Houston Division.

Conrad Alvin Barrett, 29, was charged with violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. He pleaded guilty Jun. 30, 2015, admitting that on Nov. 24, 2013, he attacked the elderly African-American man because of the man’s race and color in what Barrett called a “knockout.”

Today, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller sentenced Barrett to 71 months in prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. Barrett was further ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution.

“The defendant committed this shocking and violent assault against this vulnerable elderly man simply because he was African American,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gupta. “The Department of Justice will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the rights of victims of violent crimes are vindicated.”

“The sentencing of the defendant today represents our office’s continuing commitment to enforce senseless acts that violate our federal civil rights laws,” said U.S. Attorney Magidson. “Every citizen is entitled to this protection.”

At the time of his plea, evidence revealed that Barrett recorded himself on his cell phone attacking the African-American man. In the recording, Barrett questions whether there would be national attention if he attacked a person of color. Barrett also claimed he would not hit “defenseless people” just moments before punching the elderly man in the face and with such force that the victim immediately fell to the ground. Barrett then laughed and said “knockout” as he ran to his vehicle and fled. The victim suffered two jaw fractures and was hospitalized for several days as a result of the attack.

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was passed on Oct. 22, 2009, and signed into law by President Barack Obama six days later. Shepard was a gay student who was tortured and murdered in 1998 near Laramie, Wyoming. Byrd was an African American man who was tied to a truck by two white supremacists, dragged behind it and decapitated in Jasper in 1998.

Barrett will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI in cooperation with the Fulshear, Texas, and Katy Police Departments as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration. Trial Attorneys Saeed Mody and Olimpia Michel of the Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case along with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ruben R. Perez and Joe Magliolo of the Southern District of Texas, in cooperation with District Attorney John Healey of Fort Bend County, Texas.