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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 16, 2014

Maryland Man Sentenced To 28 Months In Prison For Bias-Related Assault In Northeast WashingtonDefendant Struck Transgender Woman With A Gun

     WASHINGTON – Michael Phillips, 36, of Fairmount Heights, Md., was sentenced today to 28 months in prison on charges stemming from an attack earlier this year against a transgender woman at a store in Northeast Washington, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

     Phillips pled guilty in March 2014, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, to a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon. The charge included a bias-related (hate) crime enhancement. Phillips was sentenced by the Honorable Robert I. Richter. Upon completion of his prison term, Phillips will be placed on three years of supervised release.

     According to the government’s evidence, at approximately 2:40 a.m. on Jan. 27, 2014, Phillips, the victim, and the victim’s friends were customers at a convenience store in the 900 block of Eastern Avenue NE. Phillips and the victim did not know each other.

     Upon seeing the victim and her friends walk into the store, Phillips stated words to the effect of, “Let me see who’s the real bitch here.” He then pointed at the victim and made a derogatory remark about her sexuality. When the victim told Phillips to leave her alone, Phillips stated words to the effect of, “Well you wasn’t born no female.” 

     Words were exchanged inside the store, and Phillips approached the victim, pulled a handgun from his pocket and struck her in the face with the weapon multiple times. At his plea hearing, Phillips admitted assaulting the victim with the handgun because of his prejudice based on her perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

     In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the work of those who investigated the case for the Metropolitan Police Department. He also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Richard Cheatham and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon S. Long, who prosecuted the matter.

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Updated February 19, 2015