OKLAHOMA CITY – In an effort to deter future hate crimes and ensure criminals are held accountable, Sen. Ron Sharp has filed legislation strengthening Oklahoma’s hate crime law. Senate Bill 1083 would allow districts attorney to choose whether to charge hate crime offenders with a misdemeanor or felony.

“When working to improve public safety, it’s important that criminals be held accountable for their crimes and that their punishment reflect the severity of their crimes,” Sharp, R-Shawnee, said. “Currently, Oklahoma’s hate crime statutes are not strong enough and I want to thank D.A. Allan Grubb for bringing this to my attention. This bill will enable district attorneys to look at the evidence of a hate crime and decide what punishment best suits the circumstances to ensure justice is fully served.”

Under current law, a first time hate crime offense is a misdemeanor while subsequent offenses are felonies. SB 1083 will give DAs discretion when deciding what charges to file.

The bill was requested by Pottawatomie County District Attorney Allan Grubb. Grubb filed hate crime charges including aggravated assault and battery, and conspiracy and malicious intimidation, in July against Devan Johnson and Brandon Killian for the brutal beating of Jarric Deshawn Carolina on June 22. The two white men were caught on tape repeatedly punching, kicking and shouting racial slurs at Carolina, who is black, outside the Brick House Saloon in Shawnee. Carolina’s life-threatening injuries put him in ICU where he spent two days on a ventilator. He has since returned home where he is still recovering and has been unable to return to work. Carolina developed an eye socket injury and has trouble walking and remembering things.

“Hate crimes are becoming more prevalent, and as District Attorneys, it’s important we have the ability to file charges that fit the crime. Mr. Carolina had a brutal crime committed against him yet under current law, these two men can only be charged with a misdemeanor. That isn’t adequate justice. They nearly killed Mr. Carolina and deserve a much harsher sentence,” Grubb said. “I want to thank Senator Sharp for filing this important public safety legislation and hope it makes it through the legislative process quickly to ensure future hate crime victims receive fair justice and offenders are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The two men were charged with aggravated assault and battery and conspiracy and malicious intimidation, all of which fall under Oklahoma’s hate crime statute. Killian has also been charged with preparing false evidence for punching himself in the face repeatedly to make it appear Carolina had hurt him. After getting out on bail, Killian was arrested again in July in Oklahoma County after missing a court date for prior drug and stolen vehicle charges.

SB 1083 will be assigned to committee when session begins in February.