Southern Decadence Marred By Stabbing

Tue. September 2, 2003 12:00 AM by

New Orleans, Louisiana - A stabbing in the French Quarter during the annual gay Southern Decadence festival is being investigated as a hate crime.

Although it is not known whether the victim, identified as a Pennsylvania man, is gay, police say the suspect in the case had gone to the area with the intent purpose of injuring or killing a festival participant.

The victim, whose name was not released, is in stable condition in hospital. Police say his injuries are not life threatening.

Witnesses called police, who chased down the suspect several blocks away and recovered a 5-inch knife. Tod W. Martinek, 53, is charged attempted first-degree murder and a hate crime.

Conviction of a hate crime adds up to 10 years of hard prison labor in addition to the penalty for the initial charge. Conviction of first-degree murder carries a life sentence in Louisiana.

It is not known if Martinek is associated with a fundamentalist Christian group which staged an anti-gay march through the Quarter Friday night. (story)

The group, led by Rev Grant E. Storms spent the weekend heckling gays as they roamed the mostly gay area.

On Sunday, Storms' supporters held a rally in park along the parade route and used bullhorns to announce that "gays are doomed to hell."

Parade goers shouted back at the protestors but there were no incidents police said. But, Sunday night, Storms was charged along with a doorman at a gay club with battery and causing a disturbance after the two got into a scuffle.

Storms was attempting to get into the Good Fellow Bar with a video camera. A tape he made at last year's Southern Decadence was sent to members of the Louisiana legislature. Storms claimed the tape showed public nudity and sex. The legislature later passed tough new laws on public nudity.

Southern Decadence attracted from than 100,000 people from around the world for the weekend of partying in the Big Easy. Police laid no charges under the state's new morality law.

©® 2003

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