TWO TEXAS MEN PLEAD GUILTY TO FEDERAL HATE CRIME FOR ASSAULTS BASED ON VICTIM’S SEXUAL ORIENTATION
WASHINGTON — Nigel Garrett, 21, and Cameron Ajiduah, 18, pleaded guilty today to assaulting men because of the victim’s sexual orientation, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Texas, and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Dallas Division announced.
According to the plea agreement signed by Garrett on January 19, 2017, defendants Garrett, Anthony Shelton and Chancler Encalade used Grindr, a social media dating platform for gay men, to arrange to meet the victim at the victim’s home. Upon entering the victim’s home, the defendants restrained the victim with tape, physically assaulted the victim, and made derogatory statements to the victim for being gay. The defendants brandished a firearm during the home invasion, and stole the victim’s property, including his motor vehicle.
Included in a separate plea agreement signed by Ajiduah on February 7, 2017, defendants Ajiduah, Garrett, and Shelton used the same scheme on a different victim, including restraining the victim and covering his eyes with tape, verbally berating him for his sexual orientaion, and physically assaulting him.
A federal grand jury previously returned an eighteen-count indictment against Ajiduah, Shelton, Garrett, and Chancler Encalade including charges of hate crimes, kidnappings, carjackings, and the use of firearms to commit violent crimes. The indictment also charged the defendants with conspiring to cause bodily injury because of the victim’s sexual orientation during four home invasions in Plano, Frisco, and Aubrey, Texas, between January 17 and February 7, 2017.
“The Justice Department will not tolerate hate crimes against any individual based on sexual orientation,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “Hate crimes are violent crimes, but also attack the fundamental principles of the United States. The Justice Department will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute hate crimes.”
"Garrett and Ajiduah invaded homes, robbed and assaulted their victims, and particularly horrendous, targeted their victims based on the victim’s sexual orientation,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston. “In response to such a hate crime, let it be known that law enforcement will leave no stone unturned to catch and prosecute the likes of these criminals to the fullest extent of the law."
Garrett and Ajiduah face a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine for their guilty plea for the hate crime charge.
The investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Plano Police Department, and the Frisco Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracey Batson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas and Trial Attorney Saeed Mody of the Civil Rights Division.