A jury has sentenced an Atlanta truck driver who poured boiling water over two gay men as the couple slept in February.
The jury deliberated for about 90 minutes on Wednesday before finding Martin Blackwell guilty of eight counts of aggravated battery and two counts of aggravated assault.
Blackwell was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
The 48-year-old wasn’t charged with a hate crime because Georgia is one of five states that do not have hate crime statutes. An FBI spokesman told Reuters that federal investigators are considering whether to charge Blackwell with a federal hate crime.
Anthony Gooden had just told his family he was gay shortly before the attack, which happened as Gooden slept on a mattress in his mother’s living room next to Marquez Tolbert. The men had been dating for about six weeks.
Blackwell, who is a long-haul trucker, stayed at the house when he was in town. The night in question, he had walked in and found the two men sleeping next to one another.
He went to the kitchen, filled a pot with water, and set it on high. When the water was boiling, he poured it over the sleeping men, The Washington Post reported.
“I woke up to the most unimaginable pain in my entire life,” Tolbert said, sobbing frequently during his testimony, according to the AP. “I’m wondering why I’m in so much pain. I’m wondering why I’m wet. I don’t understand what’s going on.”
Then Blackwell allegedly yanked him off the mattress and yelled, “Get out of my house with all that gay,” Tolbert recalled to WSBTV.
“They were stuck together like two hot dogs … so I poured a little hot water on them and helped them out,” he told the police (according to the incident report).
“… They’ll be alright. It was just a little hot water.”
Tolbert must now wear compression garments 23 hours a day for the next two years, and is attending weekly counseling and physical therapy sessions.
Gooden, who was burned much worse, was in a medically induced coma for several weeks. More than 60 percent of his body was burned, and he had to undergo skin graft surgery to repair damage to his face, neck, back, arms, chest and head.