A man who threatened his gay roommates in Santa Ana with homophobic slurs and a knife on July 4 just pleaded guilty to a felony count of criminal threats and a misdemeanor hate crime.
Joe Martin Rodriguez was furious after falsely assuming one of his roommates was using the bathroom.
In a fit of rage, Rodriguez pounded on the bathroom door while holding an 8- to 9-inch silver blade.
He was also yelling anti-gay slurs.
Joe Martin Rodriguez pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony count of criminal threats and a misdemeanor hate crime. He was scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 16 in the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.https://t.co/5gr1wdB2Pv
— KFI AM 640 (@KFIAM640) November 7, 2019
Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna told KFI-AM that at one point, Rodriguez pulled a handgun on the victims.
He threatened to kill them while berating them with homophobic remarks.
Rodriguez later fled the scene as police were called. News reports have not indicated any physical harm or injuries sustained during the confrontation.
But before leaving the residence, Rodriguez slashed the tires of the car belonging to one of the victims.
He was subsequently driven away by a friend in another vehicle.
— Queerty (@Queerty) November 12, 2019
Police pursued the getaway car and managed to pull it over, but the suspect continued escaping on foot.
A helicopter eventually tracked him down and police were able to arrest him.
Rodriguez pled guilty on Wednesday and awaits sentencing on January 16, 2020, at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.
The state of California has strict hate crime laws that punish people who threaten or harass others based on their gender, religion, disability, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
California’s hate crime statutes are composed of two parts – beginning with Penal Code 422.6 PC, which makes it a standalone crime for interfering with someone’s civil rights and damaging their property.
The second part includes Penal Code 422.7 PC and Penal Code 422.75 PC, which applies towards assault or vandalism, and if the crime is motivated by the fact that the victim has one of the characteristics described earlier.
In the U.S., death records identify the person’s age, sex, marital status, service in the United States Armed Forces, education, race and occupation, but it is not a federal requirement to indicate sexual orientation or gender identity (SO/GI) in the statistics.
The missing postmortem data makes it difficult in identifying the deaths among LGBTQ+ people—including suicides and hate-crime murders—and measure if they are disproportionately affected when compared to the general population.
The American Public Health Association indicated that the missing information also impedes the development of “targeted public health interventions and prevention strategies.”
However, on September 3, Los Angeles became the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to monitor the unnatural deaths of LGBTQ+ people in the area.
Los Angeles becomes first jurisdiction in US to record LGBT suicides and hate crime murders https://t.co/Bs0TXuDQ7p
— PinkNews (@PinkNews) September 8, 2019
Coroners now include the deceased’s SO/GI information in the medical examiners’ annual reports with a “focus on LGBTQ suicide rates, violent deaths, and hate crime incidents.”
Both lawsuits can recover compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and a civil penalty of $25,000.