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Mendelson Weighs in on Tony Randolph Hunter Murder Case

Councilmember Phil Mendelson doesn't like the way the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District is handling the murder case of Tony Randolph Hunter. Mendelson (D-At Large) fired off a letter to Acting U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips this afternoon saying that he is "alarmed" that the office is offering a plea deal to alleged murderer Robert Hannah.

Hunter, 37, of Clinton, was attacked last September at Eighth and N Streets NW when he was walking with a friend to a popular gay bar. He died ten days after the beating. The crime galvanized the gay community and more than 200 people attended a community vigil. Police initially said they were considering the possibility that the assault was motivated by anti-gay bias but later said they found no evidence it was a hate crime.

Police issued an arrest warrant for manslaughter but according to Mendelson's letter, Hannah was prosecuted for misdemeanor assault and the U.S. Attorney's Office is proposing a plea deal.

Mendelson told Phillips he thinks there should be a trial.

"Although your office has a version of the events based on the evidence, the better version is the one that results from the adversarial process of a trial, whereby evidence is tested. Proceeding with a trial renders a more complete and accurate version of what happened," the councilmember wrote.

Meanwhile, friends of Hunter have created a Facebook page. A description reads: "This page is in reaction to Tony's murder and the questionable actions of the court and police in the prosecution of his attacker."

D.C. Wire has requested a comment from Ben Friedman, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office. We'll update if we get a response.

--Theola Labbé-DeBose

By Theola Labbé-DeBose  |  September 10, 2009; 4:14 PM ET
Categories:  Crime and Public Safety , D.C. Council , Theola Labbé-DeBose  
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