Alabama Teen Charged With Thanksgiving Attack on Sister’s Girlfriend
An Alabama teen has been charged with second-degree assault after he allegedly beat up his sister's girlfriend while his family was celebrating Thanksgiving, NBC affiliate Local 5 News reports.
The incident occurred Thursday night when Mallory Owens, 23, attended Thanksgiving dinner at the house of her girlfriend in Mobile, Ala., which is about 167 miles southeast of Montgomery. But the celebration turned violent when Owens' girlfriend's brother, Travis Hawkins Jr., allegedly assaulted Owens because she is a lesbian.
"He tried to kill her. He's lucky he didn't kill her. She's lucky to be alive," Owen's mother Kristi Taylor said. "I didn't recognize her when I got here. It's hard to look at her like that."
Taylor added that she pleaded with her daughter not to have Thanksgiving with her girlfriend's family because she knew "how the family felt about her." But Owens insisted the Hawkins family were "trying to be nice."
Owens suffered multiple skull fractures and crushed bones. Pictures of the young woman that have surfaced on Facebook show her face extremely swollen from the alleged attack. The news station reported that she had to undergo facial reconstruction surgery and needed metal plates put in her cheekbones.
The alleged victim's mother said that Hawkins, 18, has assaulted Owens in the past; earlier this year, he hit her over the head with a pipe wrench. Although Owens was injured, the family did not press charges. But after the latest attack, Owens' family does not feel the same way and plans to take action against the teen.
"I want him behind bars for life," Avery Godwin, Owens' sister, told News 5. "He doesn't need to be out, because if he does he could do this to someone else or he'll finish it off with my sister."
Hawkins was arrested on Sunday on second-degree assault charges but soon posted bond. Although Owens' family insists the attack is a hate crime, Mobile District Attorney Ashley Rich says there is no reason to label it as such yet.
"We are assessing her injuries, everything regarding her hospital stay," she said. "But at this time, he is charged with causing serious physical injuries to her, which is assault second degree under the laws of the State of Alabama."
Like several states in the South, Alabama does not currently have hate crime laws protect based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The news station points out that Rich has been involved with the Hawkins family in the past. She tried to prosecute Taylor Hawkins Jr.'s father, Taylor Hawkins Sr., after he shot his son. But the teen would not testify against his father and the case was dropped.
In a statement, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin condemned the violent attack: "Violence against anyone - no matter what the motivation - is never acceptable." HRC called on Alabama and federal law enforcement officials to investigate the crime. HRC is attempting to get the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI involved.
Owens does not have health insurance and a fund has been set up in order to help pay for medical expenses. Those interested should call Regions Bank at 1-800-REGIONS for information on how to donate.