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WV high court won’t answer hate-crime question

HErald-Dispatch file photo by Curtis Johnson Steward Butler stands at arraignment Tuesday, June 9, 2015, in Cabell Circuit Court. He stands charged indicted of felony civil rights violations and misdemeanor battery in the beating of two gay men.
Herald-Dispatch file photo by Curtis Johnson
Steward Butler stands at arraignment Tuesday, June 9, 2015, in Cabell Circuit Court. He stands charged indicted of felony civil rights violations and misdemeanor battery in the beating of two gay men.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s Supreme Court of Appeals has chosen not to rule on whether former Marshall University football player Steward Butler can be charged with a hate crime in connection with an assault on two gay men last year.

With no decision either way, the prosecution in Butler’s case intends to continue to pursue the case as a civil rights violation, which could affect the penalty Butler might face if convicted.

The order was issued by the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Feb. 9. Only two of the five sitting justices — Justices Robin Jean Davis and Margaret L. Workman — said they would accept the question to the docket. Those opposed to considering the question were Justices Menis E. Ketchum, Brent D. Benjamin and Allen H. Loughry.

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