Possible federal charges for Marines who beat gay man

Thu. June 17, 2010 4:11 AM by OnTopMag.com

Savannah, GA - Two marines arrested Saturday in Savanna, Georgia on charges they battered a gay man may also face federal charges, the Savannah Morning News reported.

The FBI has reportedly launched a preliminary investigation into whether federal charges as a hate crime should be pursued in the case.

The men, both stationed at Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, S.C., were arrested by Savanna police about 4AM Saturday morning and booked on a misdemeanor charge of battery. Their bond was set at $1,850. The men were later released to Marine police, who are also considering charges.

Responding to a call, police found 26-year-old Kieran Daly laying motionless on the ground as friends performed first aid. Witnesses said Daly was attacked because he is gay.

Moments earlier, police had witnessed two men matching the description of the attackers running on Congress Lane. According to a police report, officers caught up with Keil Joseph Cronauer, 22, and Christopher Charles Stanzel, 23, after they had climbed into a fenced-off parking lot off Congress Lane. Cronauer told police they "were being harassed by a white homosexual male earlier in the evening and just wanted to get away and meet their friend on Bay St." But Stanzel said "he was going to meet a friend on River St."

Witnesses told police that one of the men grew angry because he thought Daly was winking at him. He struck Daly in the back of the head with his fist, knocking him unconscious. Daly, who was released from the hospital Sunday, was diagnosed with bruises to the brain and suffered seizures from the attack. Doctors have advised Daly, a truck driver, not to return to work.

Daly claims his attacker yelled anti-gay slurs at him as he tried to walk away from an argument with Cronauer over whether Daly was coming on to the marine.

Local gay activists are planning to hold a rally on Sunday at Johnson Square in Savannah near where Daly was struck. Activists say the crime warrants more than misdemeanor charges.

"This is just the most recent example of violence that occurs on our streets as a result of people being just who they are," Kevin Clark, a board member of Georgia Equality who directs its Savannah chapter. "It is just laughable that an attack as brutal as this could be classified as a misdemeanor. It is a felony. It is absurd that professional people could label this attack as a misdemeanor. That is the root of my deepest anger."

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine