Katy Man Indicted on Federal Hate Crime Charge for Assault of Elderly African-American Man
|U.S. Attorney’s Office January 23, 2014|
HOUSTON—A grand jury in Houston has just returned a federal indictment against Conrad Alvin Barrett, 27, charging him with one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson, along with Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris of the FBI.
“Cases are brought to us from a variety of federal, state, and local authorities when there has been a suspected violation of federal law,” said Magidson. “We consider each case on its merits, to include the overall evidence and sufficiency to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in court. Criminal civil rights violations will continue to be high priority of this office.”
Barrett was initially charged by criminal complaint on December 24, 2013. He was arrested two days later and subsequently appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy, who ordered him held in custody pending further criminal proceedings. He is expected to make an appearance on the indictment before Judge Stacy next week.
Barrett, of Katy, is charged with one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. According to court documents, on November 24, 2013, Barrett attacked the elderly man because of the man’s race and color in what Barrett called a “knockout.”
According to the allegations, Barrett recorded himself on his cell phone attacking the man and showed the video to others. The indictment alleges Barrett made several recordings from his cell phone, one in which he identifies himself and another in which he makes a racial slur.
In one recording, Barrett claimed he would not hit “defenseless people” just moments before punching the elderly man in the face, according to court records. Barrett allegedly hit the man with such force that the man immediately fell to the ground. Barrett then laughed and said “knockout” as he ran to his vehicle and fled, according to allegations. The victim suffered two jaw fractures and was hospitalized for several days as a result of the attack.
“Everyone is protected equally under the law when violent attacks are clearly motivated by race, religion, or other bias,” said Morris. “We encourage reporting such crimes to the FBI. Reporting crime is the first step to ensuring justice.”
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a violent hate crime based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity, the FBI may be able to help. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 gives the FBI authority to investigate violent hate crimes, including violence directed at the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. This federal civil rights law criminalizes willfully causing bodily injury (or attempting to do so with fire, a firearm, or other dangerous weapon) when:
- the crime was committed because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, of any person, or
- the crime was committed because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person, and the crime affected interstate or foreign commerce or occurred on federal property.
If you or someone you know is a victim of a hate crime, or if you have direct knowledge of such a crime, please contact your local FBI office. This law protects all persons equally, regardless of immigration status. Reporting the incident to the FBI is a necessary step to ensuring justice for all victims of violent hate crimes.
If convicted, Barrett faces a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI in cooperation with the Fulshear and Katy Police Departments, as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ruben R. Perez and Joe Magliolo and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorneys Saeed Mody and Olimpia Michel in cooperation with Ft. Bend County District Attorney John Healey.
An indictment is merely an accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty through due process of law.