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LGBT advocacy groups say Texas killings should be prosecuted as hate crime

Friday, April 22, 2011
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Jose Alfonso Aviles

LGBT advocacy groups are calling for the shooting deaths in of a lesbian and her mother Austin, Texas, earlier this week, to be prosecuted as a hate crime.

On Tuesday, Jose Alfonso Aviles, 45, reportedly distraught over his daughter’s lesbian relationship, was arrested for killing his daughter’s girlfriend Norma Hurtado, 24, and her mother, 57-year-old Maria Hurtado.

“My first reaction was this was a hate crime,” said Dennis Coleman, Executive Director of Equality Texas, who lobbies for hate crime laws.

Coleman said out of 1,800 hate crime cases in Texas, only six people have been prosecuted for it under the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act .

Meghan Stabler, a board member of the Human Rights Campaign in Austin, said Aviles should be prosecuted under hate crime laws. Gay rights groups Atticus Circle, Out Youth and Equality Texas agreed, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

“We understand that the penalties for capital murder and a hate crime are the same, but this wasn’t just murder; it was a biased and motivated hate crime,” Stabler said.

Prosecutors said they must wait for the investigation to be complete before determining whether they can classify it as a hate crime.

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