On Monday, Dennis Gerhardstein sent out a statement in response to the allegations that the beating in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood may have been a hate crime. It can be read in full below and has not been edited in any way.
In response to a number of general questions from varied media interests about the racial motivation of the attackers and the possibility of criminal charges under the hate crimes statute, it is important that the public is aware of the following information:
1. First, when a criminal case is charged, the factual basis for the charges is based solely on the evidence that is communicated by police at the time the case is formally submitted for prosecutorial review. After a charging decision is made, ongoing police investigation will typically yield more information and evidence, especially in a case like this where there is a large number of witnesses and multiple individuals that are charged and/or under investigation. When supported by the law and whether the facts can be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, additional facts will typically lead to new or amended charges.
In this case, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office has received no information from police investigators that racial bias was a motivating factor at this moment in time. Additionally, we believe that the current criminal charges against the defendant (Issac Maiden) are the highest and most provable offenses that can be charged at this time based upon what has been presented by St. Paul police. The investigation is ongoing.
2. Secondly, the public should know that, from a practical standpoint, evidence of racial bias in a case such as this has little or no significance in prosecuting those individuals accused of brutally assaulting the victim because it is only a misdemeanor level offense. In Minnesota, the applicable criminal law is found under Minn. Stat. § 609.2231, subd. 4 (a), which provides that whoever assaults another because of the victim's or anther's actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age or national origin may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year or $3,000 fine (i.e., a gross misdemeanor crime).
The defendant in this case (Issac Maiden) was charged with First Degree Assault, which is a serious felony offense that calls for a significant presumed prison sentence with its length depending upon the defendant's criminal history score. Under Minnesota law, because there is only one victim, the sentencing judge cannot impose two sentences on the defendant for the same set of facts. Accordingly, a criminal charge under Minn. Stat. § 609.2231, subd. 4 (a), has no value from a prosecutor's perspective and could only complicate the prosecution and conviction of Issac Maiden.
3. Finally, Minnesota law does allow for a jury and judge to consider "aggravating factors." Racial bias in connection with an underlying crime, if proven beyond a reasonable doubt, can be an aggravating factor to allow for a longer prison sentence beyond what is presumed by the sentencing guidelines grid. The investigation of this case is ongoing.