Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma football: Was Joe Mixon a victim of a hate crime?

by Berry Tramel Published: August 25, 2014

Joe Mixon arrives at the Cleveland County Courthouse last week. (AP Photo)
Joe Mixon arrives at the Cleveland County Courthouse last week. (AP Photo)

Was Joe Mixon the victim of a hate crime? How’s that for a twist in the saga of Mixon, the OU tailback who was charged with one misdemeanor count of an act resulting in gross injury, after allegedly punching fellow OU student Amelia Molitor. Molitor was not charged, though she allegedly slapped Mixon first.

For the Sunday Oklahoman, I wrote about district attorney Greg Mashburn and his fishbowl existence, being the prosecutor in a college football town. You can read that column here.

Mashburn had many options in this case. Including, some say, filing a hate crime charge against Molitor.

According to lawfirmofoklahoma.com, Section 850 of the Oklahoma criminal code defines hate crimes in the state as “those which target a victim or victims because of specific bias or prejudice.” The statute defines hate crimes as the malicious and intentional harassment or intimidation of a person because of the victim’s “race, color, religion, national origin, or disability.” Acts of harassment or intimidation include the following: assault; assault and battery; vandalism; threat of violence; threat of destruction of property; transmitting messages through telephone, computer, or electronic media intended to incite imminent violence; and publishing, broadcasting or distributing material intended to incite imminent violence.”

Hate crime penalties are additional to any sentences levied for conviction of the underlying crime. Committing a hate crime is a misdemeanor on the first offense.

Mixon’s attorney, Kevin Finlay, says Mixon was “racially slurred” and “physically assaulted” by Molitor. Mashburn said some witnesses said racial slurs were used while other witnesses said they weren’t. Mashburn said no witness recalled the events exactly as they happened, as shown on video. Mashburn said the video was critical to his ultimate decision.

But if Molitor did utter a racial slur that was followed by a slap, that fits the framework of a hate crime. If a racial slur was used, was it “malicious and intentional?” Can a drunk 20-year-old without a lick of sense be malicious? That’s for legal minds to decide. But it’s interesting to discuss.

Lots of ridiculous behavior is alleged to have occurred at Pickleman’s Gourmet café in the early hours of July 25, including Mixon uttering a homosexual slur at a friend of Molitor’s. That does not fit the hate crime parameters in Oklahoma, because homosexuality is not covered in the Oklahoma law, plus Mixon is not alleged to have hit the recipient of the slur.

It’s all one big mess, but it raises a question. If Molitor had been charged with a hate crime, would that change your view on Mixon? It certainly affects the narrative.

And would that have changed the decision by OU to suspend Mixon for a year? I don’t know. I don’t know that they know. I do know that the video played a part in the decision of David Boren, Joe Castiglione and Bob Stoops.

Here is what Mashburn said about his decision: “When you are looking at that, you start saying, ‘Well, OK, who’s the initial aggressor? Who basically started the physical aspect of the confrontation?’ In this particular case, I felt like this statute (one misdemeanor count of an act resulting in gross injury) more fit what happened because now we don’t have to talk about who the initial aggressor was. Was there gross injury? And there was. And was that against public morals? And I believe that anytime you punch a girl with that much force, even when she had hit you first, that it would be against public morals.”

 

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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