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article image'Knockout' attack suspect charged with hate crime denied bail

By Yukio Strachan     Dec 29, 2013 in Crime
Houston - An elderly black man whose jaw was broken in two places after being attacked by a 27-year-old Texas man who prosecutors say was "hunting for African-Americans to prey on,” asked the judge at the accused attacker's bail hearing to grant one request.
"Judge, I am the man who was attacked by Conrad Barrett. I hope he will not be released because I am afraid he will hurt me if he is released," said the victim in a letter, which was read in court by O’Neil Williams, R.C.’s attorney, according to Your Houston News, on R.C.’s behalf at the hearing Friday.
"Since the attack, I've had to live with my children and have people take care of me," the letter continued CNN states. If you set him free, I'll worry that he can attack me again at any time."
"Please do not release him and give me my freedom."
U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy agreed with the victim and ordered Conrad Alvin Barrett of Katy, Texas held without bail until trial.
“The crime is vicious,” said Stacy. "Barrett is a danger to the community."
The victim, who is using only the name R.C. for fear of retaliation from the arrest, according to Your Houston News, underwent surgery to insert two metal plates in his jaw and remove three teeth. He spent at least four days recovering in the hospital. R.C. still has trouble speaking more than a month after the attack.
Barrett was arrested Thursday, December 26, 2013 and charged with one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
In court, according to the Houston Chronicle, prosecutors accused Barrett of videotaping himself punching the elderly man after spending a week "hunting for African-Americans to prey on.”
The case is being tried as a federal hate crime, according to the complaint, because on November 24, 2013, Barrett attacked the elderly man because of the man’s race and color in what Barrett called a “knockout.”
The so-called “knockout game” is an brutal assault in which an assailant targets an unsuspecting victim and aims to "knockout" the victim with one punch.
According to the federal affidavit attached to the criminal complaint, the conduct has been called other names, and there have been similar incidents dating as far back as 1992.
Suspect bragged about attack
Investigators found out about the case because Barrett was showing off the video at a bar in Fulshear, Texas the night of the attack, the affidavit said.
When Barrett walked outside to leave the establishment, a Fulshear Police Department officer spoke to Barrett and confiscated his phone, the affidavit said. Much to Barrett's surprise, the person he chose to show the video to happened to be an off-duty Arson Investigator and peace officer for the City of Katy, according to the affidavit.
Later in the investigation, an agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration retrieved the cell phone video along with 10 other videos recorded on November 24, 2013, the affidavit said.
KENS 5-TV reported that law enforcement authorities said the videos show Barrett complaining about “the direction of this country” and wanting to know that if he “were to hit a black person, would this be nationally televised?”
In another video, according to a federal affidavit filed in the case, Barrett uses the N-word and said African Americans “haven’t fully experienced the blessing of evolution."
In yet another instance, Barrett even identifies himself saying, “this is Conrad,” the affidavit said.
Defense: Suspect is a bipolar alcoholic
In his defense, George Parnham, Barrett's attorney, argued that the Katy man had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder since 2004. Barrett has also been diagnosed with hyper insomnia, Parnham said.
"There's no question that that entered into these particular type of actions," Parnham said. "That's not an excuse, that's just real."
"Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks," according to the National Institute of Health.
"But bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives," the NIH states.
Patrick Barrett, Conrad Barrett’s father, testified on Friday that his son had been off his prescribed medication— including Lithium (a mood stabilizer) and sertraline or Zoloft (an antidepressant typically used to treat symptoms of depression in bipolar disorder) —for at least three weeks prior to the attack, Your Houston News reported. Conrad Barrett also suffers from alcoholism, his father said.
Conrad’s father said his son was put in psychiatric lockdown during September 2010 and remains under psychiatric care.
Attorney Williams, who represents the victim, said Barrett's behavior is nothing new. He's known for his racist behavior on social media.
Barrett, whose prior convictions include driving while intoxicated in 2003 and stealing a vehicle, according to Your Houston News, faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, if found guilty of the hate crime.
As for the victim, family and friends said R.C, who is described as a kind, funny and helpful friend, is making a full but slow recovery.
More about Knockout Game, Hate crime, Conrad Barrett, federal hate crimes, Hate Crimes Prevention Act
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