OAKLAND, Calif. — A California teen accused of setting fire last year to an agender individual who was sleeping on an Oakland city bus, has entered a plea of no contest to felony charges.
Richard Thomas, 17, faces a sentence of up to seven years in prison after a plea agreement was reached Thursday in which he admitted to a charge of felony assault assault with an enhancement of inflicting great bodily injury, reports KNTV.
The attack left 18-year-old Sasha Fleischman, who identifies as agender rather than as male or female, hospitalized for nearly three weeks with second and third-degree burns below the waist.
According to reports, Thomas, who was 16 at the time of the incident, had set Fleischman’s skirt, and subsequently legs, on fire while riding a bus home from school on Nov. 4, 2013. Surveillance video from the bus led to Thomas’ arrest a few days after the attack.
Thomas was charged as an adult in the case, but under the plea deal, hate crime and aggravated mayhem charges — which carry a sentence of up to life in prison — were dropped.
Fleischman’s parents said in a statement that they had “mixed emotions” about the prison sentence, and had fought to have Thomas tried in juvenile court, not as an adult.