DA declines hate crime charges against leading suspect

Generic (Source: Pkg)
Generic (Source: Pkg)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - District Attorney Hillar Moore says his office will not pursue hate crime charges against a person accused of attacking a man and his family for "being in the wrong neighborhood."

Moore says his team will, instead, go after defendant Donald Dickerson, using Louisiana's habitual offender section of the law. If convicted of a hate crime, Dickerson would only face the possibility of an extra five years added to his sentence.

Instead, Moore says he prefers trying Dickerson as a habitual offender. Then, if convicted, Dickerson would automatically face life in prison without the possibility of probation or parole because of his criminal background.

Dickerson has previously been convicted of armed robbery, purse snatching and a sex crime. Those convictions, in combination with the latest offense, make Dickerson eligible to be tried as a habitual offender.

Moore says the victims are happy with his decision.

"Their wish is pretty much my command in this case, and although I may have wished to do something else, my senses tell me I can get a whole lot more time," Moore said, "I believe he deserves it should he be found guilty"

Dickerson was arrested and charged with second-degree battery. The other two suspects: Devin Bessye, 24, and Ashley Simmons, 22, were released on site after police wrote them each a summons for simple battery.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie apologized for the way his officers handled the case in the beginning by not booking all three suspects in jail.

The victim suffered a broken eye socket, broken nose, and several lacerations to the face, and his wife was knocked unconscious.

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