DETROIT – A 20-year-old Detroit man pleaded guilty Monday to assaulting a gay man and yelling homophobic slurs while threatening him with a gun.
Stephen Drake Edwards pulled a gun on a 23-year-old Detroit man while yelling homophobic slurs and recording the incident on his cellphone camera. Edwards posted the video on Twitter and taunted police via appearances on Periscope.
Edwards was convicted of felonious assault and felony firearm.
The victim contacted the Fair Michigan Justice Project, and prosecutor Jamie Powell Horowitz was authorized to bring maximum charges against Edwards.
Edwards pleaded guilty to the charges and is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 14. He faces a two-year sentence for the firearm conviction and up to four years for the felony assault charge.
"Stephen Edwards targeted the victim in this case for no other reason than that he is a gay man," said Fair Michigan President Dana Nessel. "This incident took place only hours following the formation of our task force and this case perfectly illustrates the dangers LGBTQ people face every day in our community, and the desperate need for this project.” Nessel further stated, “We established the Fair Michigan Justice Project to provide targeted resources to the prosecutor’s office and community police departments to address crimes against the LGBTQ community. We are grateful for the dedication of our staff, the prosecutor's office, and the Detroit Police Department in bringing Mr. Edwards to justice. We hope this conviction serves as a warning to all persons who commit crimes against LGBTQ people."
"Gun violence is an epidemic in our community and, unfortunately, LGBTQ persons are disproportionately affected due to the high level of hate crimes committed against them," Powell Horowitz said. "I am relieved that Mr. Edwards faces a mandatory prison sentence so that others will not be subjected to the fear and violence this defendant utilized social media to disseminate. I am proud to be part of this innovative project, which I believe is having a significant impact on the safety of the community, and I am grateful to Prosecutor Worthy for her support of this important work."
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