San Mateo police have arrested Santos Manuel Marquez (36) on allegations of attempted murder, aggravated mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon, and commission of a hate crime for having severely beaten a man about the head and face with a heavy-duty U-shaped anti-theft lock because he was disturbed by the man’s sexual orientation. The incident occurred late at night on the 700 block of residential Santa Inez Avenue. Seemingly, the victim of the alleged hate crime had eaten at the same local restaurant as Marquez earlier that evening and San Mateo Police Sergeant Dave Norris has stated that he suspects that there is some further, deeper connection between the two men than simply having met that night. Certainly, it could be argued that they were at least acquaintances before the night of the confrontation on July 20th and there was at least one witness who will be further questioned in the near future, perhaps shedding some light on the situation.
The state of California has stringent anti-hate crimes laws; these laws underscore the fact that a person’s motivation for the commission of a crime can make a huge difference in how their case is treated – both in the charges levied against them and, if convicted, in the sentencing phase. The first of these hate crime statutes (CA PC §422.55) harshly enhances the punishment meted out for harassing, threatening, or harming a person due to their gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, disability, religion, or sexual orientation.
In this case, the assault charge penalties could be increased by up to 3 years in prison, for a total of approximately 7 years. In order to avoid these enhancements, Marquez will have to be able to prove that the assault was not motivated by bias toward the alleged victim due to his sexual orientation.