Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 33, Ed. 1 Friday, December 30, 2011 Page: 15 of 44
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BEATEN AND BURNED | Burke Burnett was stabbed with a broken beer bottle and thrown onto a lit
burn barrel at a Halloween party in East Texas. (Courtesy of Burke Burnett)
Reno attack made national news
9 Burke Burnett says he Was inspired to
come out as gay at 15 after learning
• about the hate crime murder of gay
Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard.
Thirteen years after Shepard's death, Burnett
himself became the victim of a brutal anti-gay
hate crime in Reno, Texas, a small town east of
Paris and 100 miles northeast of Dallas.
Burnett, now 26, was at a Halloween party in
the early morning hours of Oct. 30 when he was
jumped by three men who yelled anti-gay epi-
thets as they stabbed him repeatedly with a bro-
ken beer bottle, before throwing him onto a lit
Burnett said he'd never before had problems
in his hometown due to his sexual orientation,
but he believes the men were trying to kill him.
It took 30 stitches to close stab wounds to his
back and forearm, as well as a cut above his left
eye. He also sustained second-degree burns and
It was arguably the worst anti-gay hate crime
Texas has Seen since Jimmy Lee Dean was
beaten nearly to death in the heart of Dallas'
gay entertainment district in 2008. And for
many in East Texas, Burnett's beating undoubt-
edly evoked memories of the 1993 murder of
Nicholas West in Tyler,
Fearing that local authorities wouldn't treat
the crime seriously Burnett's friends contacted
the media. After graphic photos of his injuries
were posted on DallasVoice.com, the incident
quickly made national news.
Reno police were tightlipped about their in-
vestigation, but within days they'd arrested
three men in connection with the crime — 31-
year-old James Mitchell Lasater III of Paris, 25-
year-old Micky Joe Smith of Brookston and
33-year-old Daniel Shawn Martin of Paris.
The suspects each were charged with multi-
ple counts of aggravated assault, but under
Texas law, it would be up to prosecutors to de^
cide whether to treat the case as a hate crime.
And LGBT advocates Weren't terribly opti-
mistic, given that in the 10 years since Texas'
statute was passed, only about a dozen cases
have: been prosecuted as hate crimes*
They would be pleasantly surprised, how^
ever, when on Nov. 10 the Lamar County Dis-
trict Attorney's Office announced that that all
three suspects would face hate crimes enhance-
Aggravated assault is a second-degree felony
punishable by up to 20 years in prison, but the
enhancements would bump up the charges,
making them first-degree felonies punishable
by life in prison.
— John Wright
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is mare than just a volleyball organization.
It's a place where people can play for fun or
compete. DIVA also provides an alternative means
to interact with one another other than the bars.
Visit: www.DIVADallas.org for maps
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or call Bill Horn at: 214.536.4430
Jain us far aur NEW MEMBER Clinics
B-IOpm at Reverchon Recreation Center
7-9pm at Polk Recreation Center
2-4pm at Reverchon Recreation Ctr. Beginners Only
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7-9pm at Advantage Sports Complex
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Come Get Your
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very in Dallas/Fort Worth,
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Vi-i -ik'i * (H I k in #
2615 Oak Lawn, Dallas
t. 800-292-4534 or 214-827-7496 • f. 214-823-3343
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12.30.11 ■ dallasvoice 15
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 33, Ed. 1 Friday, December 30, 2011, newspaper, December 30, 2011; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239200/m1/15/: accessed April 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.