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Kansas City man who pleaded guilty to anti-gay hate crime gets 22 years in prison

Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3

Malachi Robinson, 25, pleaded guilty to shooting a 16-year-old eight times because of his sexual orientation. The teen survived but still has bullets in his body.

A 25-year-old Kansas City man was sentenced Thursday to nearly 22 years in prison for shooting a gay teenager eight times because of his sexual orientation.

Malachi Robinson pleaded guilty last July to one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act by shooting a 16-year-old identified as “M.S.” in court documents.

After a chance meeting at the Kansas City Public Library in May 2019, Robinson and M.S. talked briefly online, met outside the library, and walked for a time in Swope Park, according to court documents. Robinson suggested they walk into a wooded area to engage in a sex act, then Robinson messaged his girlfriend that he “might shoot this boy” because he is gay.

But M.S. changed his mind, and when he turned to leave the woods, Robinson shot him with a Taurus 9mm pistol. M.S. survived the shooting after spending two weeks in the hospital. He has since undergone multiple surgeries and has been doing physical therapy and living with several bullets inside him, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes sentenced Robinson to 21 years and 10 months in federal prison without parole.

“This significant penalty brings a measure of justice to the young victim and to the larger LGBTQI+ community,” said U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore in a statement. “To ambush and shoot an unwitting victim, who posed no threat to him, for no other reason than his sexual orientation is reprehensible behavior that won’t be tolerated.”

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, passed in 2009, created a new federal law that criminalized bodily injury when it was committed because of perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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