COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — One Columbus man who was brutally stabbed and confined to a wheelchair because of a racially motivated attack in 2020 was given closure Thursday afternoon.
The man who did it was convicted of aggravated assault by a Muscogee County Superior Court jury.
On August 25, 2020, Michael Hunt was stabbed seven times at his workplace by Jayvon Hatchett, 22. After viewing a video of police brutality against a black man in Wisconsin, Hatchett told police he set out immediately to kill a white person.
“You perpetrated the worst hate crime in my recent memory. I don’t know that anyone hears a person say that they’re going to premeditatedly go out and kill a person of another race,” Superior Court Judge John Martin said. “That’s the absolute definition of a hate crime.”
Both sides presented expert witnesses after defense attorney Steve Craft entered a not guilty plea by reason of insanity defense on Hatchett’s behalf.
Based on testimony from Hatchett, his family members, and ex-girlfriend, Dr. Christina Gliser testified she diagnosed Hatchett with schizoaffective disorder type bipolar after the incident. She says that video caused him to go out and, ‘defend his race,’ in a psychosis. District Attorney Stacey Jackson called Dr. John Parmer, another psychologist, to the stand to dispute the defense expert’s findings.
“It is my belief that due to those symptoms of psychosis, even though there’s evidence to suggest he knew that he’d committed a crime,” Dr. Gliser said. “That because of his mental illness, he did not feel that what he was doing was morally wrong. He felt that he was justified in defending his race.”
“There’s not sufficient evidence to conclude that he would have lacked the mental capacity at the time of the act to distinguish right from wrong,” Dr. Parmer said. “Or that because of a mental disease injury or congenital deficiency, delusional compulsion over mastered his will to resist committing the alleged act.”
The question for the jurors was not did Hatchett commit the crime, rather was he sane when he did it. Deliberations only lasted two hours.
“Count one, the jury finds the defendant guilty of aggravated assault. Count 2, the jury finds the defendant guilty during the possession of a knife during the commission of a crime,” the clerk read.
Hatchett is also charged in the 2020 jailhouse murder of a white cellmate. The DA offered Hatchett a plea deal Monday before the testimony started. The state offered to wrap all five cases against him into one guilty plea for a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 30 years. However, Thursday he was sentenced the maximum to both charges. Twenty years for aggravated assault and five years for the possession of a knife during the commission of a crime. Both sentences to be served consecutively. A sentencing DA Jackson said the state was pleased with.
“He sought out a victim based on race and for no other reason. Like he said in his interview, that he wanted to kill someone and the person that he wanted to kill was a white male,” Jackson said. “It’s pretty egregious, but there was an intent to kill. Like the judge said, other by the grace of God that we would be trying a murder case versus an aggravated assault.”
“I mean you tried your best. You stabbed him seven times to try to kill him simply because he was white,” Superior Court Judge John Martin said to Hatchett. “If the roles had been reversed, and if a white person had gone out and said, ‘I’m going to kill a black person,’ and stabbed him seven times in the neck, we’d probably have civil unrest in the city.”
Hatchett’s defense attorney, Steve Craft, declined to comment given there are additional charges pending against his client.
Hatchett still faces murder charges, if convicted he is looking at an additional life sentence without parole on top of the 25 already sentenced.