Delays in Anti-Gay Robbery Case

Status hearing for defendants accused in 14th Street assault again postponed

The status hearing for two men accused of attacking and robbing a man while yelling homophobic slurs at him has been postponed for the second time this month.

The men, Gustavo Velasquez, 24, and Ciriaco Oxlaj, 26, each face one count of robbery for allegedly assaulting the victim and stealing his iPad in the 1300 block of 14th Street NW, just before 1 a.m. on April 25.

Velasquez and Oxlaj appeared in court yesterday for a scheduled status hearing, but D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick Sullivan postponed the hearing until June 13 because Oxlaj’s attorney, Joseph Molina, was in trial for an unrelated case. Velasquez’s lawyer, John Machado, stood in for Molina as Sullivan notified the parties he was rescheduling the status hearing.

Although police initially investigated the incident as a possible hate crime, no bias enhancements have been filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia against either defendant.

Both defendants have been released on bond and have been ordered to stay away from the victim and the area on 14th Street NW between Massachusetts and Rhode Island Avenues. They must continue to report weekly, in person, to the court’s Pretrial Services Agency (PSA) and submit to regular drug testing.

Velasquez was previously ordered to submit to further drug testing and an addiction assessment after a PSA representative revealed that Velasquez had tested positive for cocaine at the time of his arrest. The results of that assessment have not yet been made public, but will be taken into account at the status hearing before the men head to trial.

According to charging documents, the victim was standing on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette while holding his iPad when three men approached him, called him a ”faggot” in Spanish, and struck him, knocking him to the ground and attempting to reach into his pants pocket. The victim temporarily lost consciousness, but did not require hospitalization.

After the victim came to he alerted nearby police and identified Velasquez and Oxlaj as two of his attackers, at which point police took them into custody. The victim was unable to identify a third assailant.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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