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Teenager ordered tried as adult in alleged hate crime in Missouri

Friday, August 17, 2012

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. — A juvenile court judge in Cape Girardeau, Mo., ruled Wednesday that the 17-year-old female suspect in the July 24 beating of a local lesbian resident will be prosecuted as an adult.

During the ten minute hearing, Judge Scott Lipke ordered that Mercedes M. Ayers be transferred out of the juvenile court custody and into the custody of the adult court.

Mercedes M. Ayers

Cape Girardeau County Prosecutor Morley Swingle filed a class B felony charge of first-degree burglary for entering the victim’s home with the intent of assaulting her. However, the second charge of third-degree assault, which is normally a misdemeanor, was upgraded because Swingle believes the assault was a hate crime due to the victim’s sexual orientation.

The misdemeanor carries up to one year in the county jail and up to $1,000 in fines, but the upgraded charge carries a more stringent penalty of one to four years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

Swingle said he intends to prove the hate crime requirement that the suspect was “knowingly motivated” by Terry’s sexual orientation.

“In Cape Girardeau County, thankfully, hate crimes are rare,” Swingle said. “We have maybe one a year at the most. In proving the motive, we have to prove it just like any other fact — have testimony and evidence to prove the motive, either by eyewitnesses or confession. So that’s our allegation, and we intend to prove it.”

A probable-cause statement prepared by the prosecutor’s office said that police responded July 24 to a call to a fight in progress.

According to court documents, the victim, Jeana Terry, told law enforcement officials that Ayers pulled her from the home and, along with Ayers’ two younger siblings and some of their friends, beat her while yelling anti-gay slurs.

Jeana Terry shows the facial injuries she received last week after she said she was beaten by three siblings who live in her neighborhood.

Terry and her partner, Lisa Lange, told investigators that Ayers came to the door uninvited that night, reported the Southeastern Missourian.

Terry opened the door, the report says, and Ayers grabbed her by the arm and pulled her onto the porch and attacked her. Terry attempted to escape and yelled to Lange to call 911. Ayers allegedly pursued, punching Terry as several other juveniles — including two of Ayers’ younger siblings — joined in.

Terry never hit back, the report says, instead attempting from the ground to block the repeated blows and stomps to her head and body. Ayers allegedly yelled racial slurs at Terry during the beating and made comments about Terry’s sexual orientation.

Ayers was ordered held on a $10,000 bond.

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32 more reader comments:

  1. I’m sorry, but hatecrimes are just stupid. Try them for the action, not the motivation. T

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 7:40pm
  2. good

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 7:41pm
  3. Wow that’s my town! :-O

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 7:41pm
  4. GOOD!! She should be tried as an adult…a hate crime is a hate crime!!!

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 7:44pm
  5. try as an adult and throw the book at her

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 7:45pm
  6. Any other time I would say karma a bitch but I hope that when she is in jail she gets her ass beat like she did to that girl

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 7:47pm
  7. No minor should be tried as an adult. No exception

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 7:48pm
  8. I hope you enjoy being someone’s “bitch” because judging on your looks, you are easy pickings for the other inmates.

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 7:49pm
  9. what a disgusting piece of scum low life, I hope karma gets her back

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 7:50pm
  10. Good fucking riddance

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 7:50pm
  11. The Family Research Council and Tony Perkins’ rhetoric gave this woman the permission to take out her personal frustrations on gay folks. …. see how silly that sounds.

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 7:53pm
  12. I am profoundly impressed that Terry did not fight back. Terry is my Hero now! Something tells me that Terry and Lange knew deep down that Ayers is but a misguided child and will be set right once all this is over. Ayers is still capable of learning and growing and may just surprise us all by becoming an ally. Yes, she needs this incubation period to turn around.

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 7:58pm
  13. either way it’s horrible

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 7:59pm
  14. We keep a gun for this reason.

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 8:00pm
  15. I disagree with this. While what the girl was atrocious and my heart goes out to the couple, jail time teaches nothing. We need to see more rehabilitative justice, where real education and therapy is involved. Prison time will most likely only further ruin a young life.

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 8:04pm
  16. The nerve! How can she sit there and commit a hate crime against a lesbian when she looks like one herself? You know what they say, those that hate us the most usually are just like us deep down inside.

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 8:04pm
  17. lock the bitch under the jail….done

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 8:05pm
  18. What does a lesbian look like, Andy? Way to stereotype.

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 8:12pm
  19. Come on now! Who would you rather see do time? This violent youth ot someone stopped with a small amount of marijuana.
    Sometimes people have to go to jail. It’s not about teaching her anything. It’s not about her.
    It’s about putting a criminal somewhere where they cannot do harm to members of the general public if only for a short time…

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 8:14pm
  20. As it usually happens with our justice system, she’ll probably just get out of jail and continue the same behaviour. In the end it’s not keeping people safe or bettering a community.

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 8:18pm
  21. John, law enforcement looks at the motivation of EVERY crime. Hate crimes are clear and horrific. Matthew Shepard and many, many, many like him died, so that activists (including his mother) could get these types of crimes punished more severely.

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 8:19pm
  22. Hate crimes are even more emtionally traumatizing than non hate crimes. I think they should carry stiffer penalties.

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 8:22pm
  23. I think she should get 20 to life

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 8:34pm
  24. This girl and her siblings were also shouting racial slurs. If this was a white girl beating a black girl, she’d be chastised by all sorts of groups. But since it’s “reverse racism,” it’s mentioned very briefly.

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 8:43pm
  25. I’m curious to see what the defense lawyers are going to use as a defense for these girls. Was it really a hate crime? Right now we only have half of the story. People often call out hurtful names during a fight anyways and sad but true the word faggot is used as a degrading word not necessarily specifically towards actual homosexuals. I’m not making any decisions about this story until I see the information brought out in court. Being a gay facebook page obviously you have the responsibility to keep the gay news fresh on the press, but yeah the victim is gay and yeah there were slurs being said but that doesn’t conclude what the motive was. Please keep us updated on the whole story, maybe interview the teenager if you can. Something. I do hope this girl gets a just punishment, but beating up a human because they are black, gay, Islamic, etc doesn’t mean that it’s a hate crime. If a gay woman beat her up and called her a fag then what would it be classified as? (sorry so unorganized but my thoughts are out there now)

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 8:44pm
  26. Joel, what are you rambling about? It wasn’t a “fight.” A fight is two people fighting each other, not 3 people beating up one person. The victim didn’t even fight back!!! This is a CRIME. Spouting racial and gay slurs while you’re BEATING someone is the definition of a HATE CRIME.

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 8:51pm
  27. Also, how could the victim piss off the perpetrator, if she was in her own home and the perp knocked on her door and pulled her from the home? IF something had been happening immediately before the crime (like the exchange of slurs or something), then it may not be a hate crime.

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 8:54pm
  28. Andy Rogers is right. That chick do look like she could be gay and hates gays because of what she is inside. I would love to her side of the story because right now I’m appalled with reading this story. I want hear what she gotta say I wanna hear if everything is true is she woman enough to apologize to the victims. I want to see justice be served.

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 8:58pm
  29. She deserve whatever she gets….somebody need to do her the same way

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 10:03pm
  30. No fit excuse for what she did… hope the courts see it that way. Sick & tired of so much hate and anger coming out as violence & murder.

    Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 10:11pm
  31. Now where She goes they will have fun with her in prison

    Posted on Saturday, August 18, 2012 at 9:44am
  32. Good! Miserable BITCH! Hopefully she’ll get some prison time and find out what happens to people like her!!!!

    Posted on Saturday, August 18, 2012 at 11:30am