Decision on gay-bashing pleas by next month

Decision on gay-bashing pleas by next month

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The three people accused of attacking a gay couple in Center City last year will make a decision by next month on their potential plea deals. 

At a proceeding Thursday morning, defendants Phillip Williams, Kevin Harrigan and Kathryn Knott were rescheduled for another pre-trial bring back Oct. 15. Prosecutor Mike Barry told PGN that this will be the last bring back; the trio will either plead guilty at that proceeding, or the case will head to trial. A potential trial likely wouldn't be scheduled until early next year, Barry said. 

None of the defendants was present for Thursday's proceeding.

The District Attorney's Office offered the three plea deals, the details of which have not been publicly disclosed, at the beginning of the summer. 

The trio faces aggravated assault, simple assault and conspiracy charges in connection with the Sept. 11, 2014, beating of Andrew Haught and Zachary Hess.

The couple was walking at 16th and Chancellor streets when they encountered the three and a group of their friends. The group allegedly taunted the couple about their sexual orientation and then physically attacked. 

Following the attack and sharp public outcry, the city adopted an LGBT-inclusive hate-crimes law but, because it was enacted after the incident, the defendants could not be charged with a hate crime. Pennsylvania's hate-crimes law continues to lack protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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