Updated: 4:30 p.m. EST
PHILADELPHIA — Zachary Hesse and his boyfriend were moving on from a frozen yogurt stop toward a pizza joint in Philadelphia‘s “Gayborhood” when they came across eight to 10 young adults out on the town.
One of the revelers, using profanity and slurs, asked if they were gay, Hesse testified Tuesday. Hesse said they were, echoing the same crude language, and soon found themselves surrounded.
Hesse was pushed, pushed back, and was promptly punched in the face, he said.
“After that, it just kind of got messy,” Hesse, 28, testified before a judge upheld felony assault and conspiracy charges against two young men and a woman, the daughter of a suburban police chief. “(I felt) terrified.”
In a matter of minutes, boyfriend Andy Haught was lying in a pool of blood with a broken jaw and two broken cheekbones. A nearby resident called 911 and the group took off.
Article continues belowThe case, which swirled on news and social media sites in September, has alternately been described as a routine street fight or a homophobic attack in a state that doesn’t include sexual orientation in its hate crime law.
“I think this court knows, it’s going to be an interesting trial,” Assistant District Attorney Mike Barry said, asking Common Pleas Judge Charles Hayden to leave the answer to a jury. Hayden agreed, and ordered the defendants to return to court in January to enter pleas.
Security video posted online by police helped identify the group, many of them friends from their days at a suburban Catholic high school. Defense lawyers vow to mount a vigorous defense for their clients – 24-year-old Philip Williams of Warminster; 24-year-old Kathryn Knott of Southampton; and 26-year-old Kevin Harrigan of Warrington.