The disturbing case of an agender Oakland teen who was allegedly burned on an AC Transit bus by another teenager — which is being treated as a homophobic hate crime — could go to trial if all parties don't soon reach an agreement.
An attorney representing 17-year-old Richard Thomas, who stands accused of lighting fire to a skirt worn by 18-year-old Luke "Sasha" Fleischman on November 4, 2013, tells the Bay Area Reporter that he's trying to make a deal with prosecutors.
Fleischman, who claims neither female or male gender identity, had been wearing skirts for a couple of years and was attacked on the way home from school. Thomas attended a different high school.
Thomas is charged as an adult with aggravated mayhem and assault resulting in serious bodily injury with a hate crime enhancement attached to each count. The teen could receive life in prison if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty.
Fleischman, who suffered second- and third-degree burns as a result of the incident, has spoken out against the county's decision to try Thomas as an adult, as SFist previously noted, and the teen's mom, Debra Crandall, tells BAR that she’s “sad” about it too. "We’re kind of torn to put a 16-year-old kid away for life seems really harsh,” Crandall said. “I feel like perhaps the DA’s office must have information they can’t give us completely.”
Thomas apparently has a criminal history, his attorney indicated to BAR, but since he’s a juvenile those details are confidential. His attorney also said that Thomas “doesn’t have a homophobic bone in his body" and that the act “was the result of a juvenile prank that went horribly wrong.”
The next hearing at Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland is scheduled for October 10, and if the case isn't resolved then, it will move to trial, which is set for December 8.