The lead suspect in the 2008 beating of a gay man was sentenced to a year in jail and probation on Dec. 11.
On Aug. 9, 2008 Fa Junior MoiMoi was one of several suspects who attacked at least three people at an evening gathering in the Ensign Peak area, a popular hangout spot for college-age people. One of the victims, Carlos Lopez, said that MoiMoi and at least five other men attacked him, his sister and his aunt when MoiMoi asked if Lopez was gay and Lopez did not respond.
Lopez suffered head trauma and needed facial reconstructive surgery for a broken occipital bone — one of seven small bones surrounding the eye. Police said MoiMoi attacked Lopez because of Lopez’s sexual orientation and because of this, they were considering the beating a hate crime. Utah law allows prosecutors and judges to add a hate crimes enhancement to filed charges.
After the attack, MoiMoi fled the state for Hawaii where he was arrested and extradited to Utah last February. During the manhunt, the Salt Lake City Police Department placed him on their 10 Most Wanted list. At the time, he was charged with one count of first-degree felony aggravated assault and two counts of class A misdemeanor assault.
On Dec. 11, however, MoiMoi plead guilty to one count of third-degree felony aggravated assault, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. The judge dismissed the other charges.
In addition to his sentence, MoiMoi received 200 hours of community service and has been ordered to write a letter of apology to those he attacked. He must also get his high school diploma equivalent and pay medical costs exceeding $36,000.
Police have now issued a warrant for the arrest of a suspect in the case, Sione Tupou Malohi, 24.
Timothy Kincade, a blogger at the Web site Box Turtle Bulletin, which offers “news, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric,” said that the sentencing was too light.
“I can sympathize when a situation gets out of hand and a punch gets thrown. But this was a gang of men attacking two women and a boy resulting in reconstructive surgery on his face,” he wrote. “I just can’t help but wonder if Lopez had been sent to the hospital in Utah with his facial bones broken because he was Mormon whether perhaps, just perhaps, the crime might have been taken more seriously.”