PHILADELPHIA — It started with a slur, as a gay couple walking to get pizza crossed paths with 15 young adults celebrating a birthday in the city.
“Is that your (expletive) boyfriend?” one of the suburban friends sneered. A scrum ensued that left one gay man with a broken jaw and the other with a pair of black eyes.
“People feel so privileged that they can just do anything and say anything they want. And it’s so wrong,” forewoman Joan Bellinger said Friday after a Philadelphia jury convicted a police chief’s daughter of assault and other misdemeanors, but no felonies, in the attack last year.
Kathryn Knott, 25, of Southampton, had turned down a plea offer that yielded probation for her two male co-defendants.
Knott took the stand this week to deny that she helped instigate the fight or injured either victim. But the jury agreed with witnesses who said she shouted slurs and struck one of the men.
Her earlier Twitter posts, shown to jurors, included a slur for gay women to describe a bad hair day and the hashtags “ew” and “gay” on a post about men kissing.
The attack spurred officials to expand the city’s hate-crime law to include protections for sexual orientation.
However, all three defendants insist the dispute was not fueled by any anti-gay bias.
Knott told the jury that she had run to the fight to try to intervene. She sobbed after the verdict as she huddled with her parents. She remains free on bail until her Feb. 8 sentencing, when the options range from probation to a two-year jail term.
Defense lawyer Louis Busico had conceded that the most seriously injured victim suffered “horrific” injuries.
“He didn’t deserve that, but she shouldn’t be wrongly accused either,” he argued to jurors this week.
The jury over three days considered but ultimately rejected the most serious aggravated assault charges, although Bellinger said she leaned that way.