Metro Weekly

Maryland Man Sentenced in Bias-Related Attack

Defendant who pleaded guilty to hitting transgender woman with handgun receives 28 months in prison

Machen

U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald Machen (photo courtesy of U.S. Attorney’s Office).

A Maryland man who pleaded guilty in March to hitting a transgender woman multiple times with a handgun during an altercation in Northeast Washington was sentenced on Monday to 28 months, or two and one-third years, in prison, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

Michael Phillips, 36, of Fairmount Heights, Md., had previously pleaded guilty to one count of bias-motivated assault with a dangerous weapon stemming from an incident in January that took place inside a convenience store in the 900 block of Eastern Avenue NE, located in the city’s Burrville neighborhood, on the District’s eastern border with Maryland.

On Monday, D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert I. Richter sentenced Phillips to 28 months in prison, a term that includes the bias enhancements, which are known colloquially as hate crime charges. Once he completes his prison term, Phillips will be placed on supervised release for three more years.

According to evidence provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Phillips approached the victim, who had entered the store with her friends, around 2:40 a.m. on January 27, saying, “Let me see who’s the real bitch here.”

Phillips pointed at the transgender woman and made a derogatory remark about her sexuality. When the victim told him to leave her alone, Phillips allegedly responded, “Well, you wasn’t born no female.” 

The two continued to exchange words, at which point, according to the government’s evidence, Phillips approached the victim, took out a handgun, and beat her across the face with the weapon multiple times. At his plea hearing in March, Phillips admitted he had attacked the woman because of personal biases based on her perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. Neither Phillips nor the victim knew one another prior to the incident.

In touting the successful sentencing of Phillips, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald Machen commended the work of the Metropolitan Police Department for investigating and arresting the defendant, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Long, the lead prosecutor, and paralegal specialist Richard Cheatham for their work on the case. 

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

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