A mistrial has been declared in the murder trial of Aleksandr Shevchenko, accused of the anti-gay hate crime killing of Satendar Singh in Sacramento in July, 2007. Singh, 26, died as a result of head injuries received during an attack in which Shevchenko used racial and anti-gay slurs.
According to The Sacramento Bee:
After more than four days of tense deliberations, the jury of seven women and five men could not agree on whether the defendant was involved in the confrontation because he believed Singh was gay. The panel emerged before noon and told Judge Gary S. Mullen that they were "irrevocably deadlocked" on the hate- crime allegation that Aleksandr Shevchenko, 22, faced for his role in last year's fight. The Sacramento man was found guilty on two misdemeanor counts: disturbing the peace and simple assault for throwing a bottle. He could face a maximum sentence of about nine months in jail when he returns to court on July 11. It remained unclear Wednesday whether the District Attorney's Office would re-try Shevchenko on the controversial hate-crime charge.
The facts of the case seem to point beyond "disturbing the peace" and "simple assault." According to The LGBT Hate Crimes Project:
Around 8:00 p.m., Singh's group was leaving the area when some of th men from the Russian group confronted them. in the parking lot. A friend of Singh's, speaking on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation, said the confrontation began when two members of their group returned from a nearby bathroom when two men from the Russian group "saying something" to them.
The men were angry that two of the men in Singh's group allegedly kissed each other, and they demanded an apology. Singh's friends denied anyone kissed and refused to apologize. That, they said is when the homophobic and racist taunts - such as "Sodomites" and "7-11" - began. One of the men threatened them, saying, "If there weren't any park rangers here you'd see what I would do, we're waiting for you."
At that point, Singh responded to the insults, and the two men turned on him. According to witnesses, the two men said to Singh that they belonged to a Russian evangelical church and that he should go to a "good church" like theirs. According to several witnesses, the men sent their wives and children home and called for several more Slavic men on their cell phones.
When members of Singh's group - which included a pregnant woman - tried to leave the men blocked them with their bodies. The woman said to the men that she didn't want to fight them, and one of them said to her "We don't want to fight you either, we just want your faggot friend."
One of the Russian men then threw a beer into the face of a member of Singh's group, and then "sucker punched" Singh. As Singh fell to the pavement, the two men ran away. Singh struck his head on a concrete sidewalk when he fell.
As Towleroad points out, "As in Stephen Moller's murder of Sean Kennedy in South Carolina, another killer is likely to get off easy."