The Atlanta truck driver accused of pouring boiling water on a gay couple in February has been convicted. Martin Blackwell was found guilty of eight counts of aggravated battery and two counts of aggravated assault. He will serve 40 years in prison.
The jury came to this decision after deliberating for about 90 minutes. However, Blackwell, 48, wasn’t charged with a hate crime because Georgia is one of five states that do not have hate crime statutes. One FBI spokesman told Reuters that federal investigators are deciding whether they should charge Blackwell with a federal hate crime.
The two victims of Blackwell’s assault were Anthony Gooden and Marquez Tolbert. The two, who had been dating for six weeks, were sleeping on a mattress in the living room of Gooden’s mother when Blackwell saw them lying next to each other. Blackwell then went to the kitchen, boiled a pot of hot water, and poured the water over the two men.
“I woke up to the most unimaginable pain in my entire life,” Tolbert said, crying frequently during his testimony. “I’m wondering why I’m in so much pain. I’m wondering why I’m wet. I don’t understand what’s going on.”
According to Tolbert, Blackwell pulled him off the mattress and yelled, “Get out of my house with all that gay.” Blackwell told police, “They were stuck together like two hot dogs … so I poured a little hot water on them and helped them out.” He continued, “They’ll be alright. It was just a little hot water.”
Vickie Gray, a friend of Tolbert, said Tolbert now has to wear compression garments 23 hours a day for the next two years. He’s also attending weekly counseling and physical therapy sessions to cope with his physical and emotional traumas. Common things, like going outside, have now become a task for Tolbert since the sunlight can intensify the pain of his burns.
Gooden suffered harsher burns and was in a medically induced coma for several weeks, according to Gray. His GoFundMe page listed that more than 60 percent of his body was burned and he had to get skin graft surgery to repair damages to his face, head, neck, arms, chest, and back.
Terribly sad. We wish the two young men a complete recovery.