Local attorney weighs in on potential hate crime charge stemming from Northgate assault

Police say a 21-year-old Centerville man attacked another man, unprovoked, in front of a Northgate bar.
Published: May. 3, 2021 at 8:50 PM CDT|Updated: May. 3, 2021 at 10:09 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - A local attorney is weighing in on a crime that happened over the weekend.

According to College Station police, 21-year-old Tristian Andrews was arrested and charged with Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Andrews is accused of attacking a man unprovoked with a broken beer bottle in front of a Northgate bar.

In court documents, officers say Andrews was kicked out of the bar, smashed a beer bottle, and yelled a racial slur. The victim told police he heard Andrews say, “I’ll kill any n***** I see,” before rushing at him with the bottle. Police say the victim suffered a 1-to-2 inch cut on his hand and was bleeding heavily. The victim, who is Black, says he did not know Andrews and was not talking to him before the attack.

Following that report, local attorney Shane Phelps says that testimony for a case is imperative, especially when it comes to proving intent while committing what could be considered by a court of law, a hate crime.

“If he said that, obviously, that is a statement of bias or prejudice right before someone is assaulted, so there is almost certainly going to be a follow-up investigation. There will be an evaluation and review by the District Attorney’s Office, both for the Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon charge and for the Hate Crime enhancement,” said Phelps.

It is a potential charge increase that would have to be presented to a grand jury before the suspect could be indicted on it. Phelps says the initial charge of assault was the initial evidence that police needed in order to issue an arrest warrant.

In the state of Texas, the current penal code says that a hate crime is, “the defendant intentionally selected the person against whom the offense was committed, or intentionally selected the person’s property that was damaged or affected as a result of the offense, because of the defendant’s bias or prejudice against a group identified by race, color, disability, religion, national origin or ancestry, age, gender, or sexual preference or by status as a peace officer or judge.”

“Upon the prosecution successfully proving to the jury that it was motivated by bias or prejudice, that’s five years to 99 years to life in prison,” said Phelps.

Still, Phelps says all of that has to be proven in court to stick.

“The prosecution process has to be careful with any allegation they make with credible evidence beyond a reasonable doubt in front of a jury,” said Phelps.

Andrews was booked into the Brazos County Detention Center on a $25,000 bond. He bonded out Sunday.

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