Victim of Anti-Gay Hate Crime Luke O’Donovan Sentenced to 10 Years for Self-Defense

Victim of Anti-Gay Hate Crime Luke O’Donovan Sentenced to 10 Years for Self-Defense

ATLANTA, GA — Luke O’Donovan, a survivor of a homophobic attack in Atlanta, GA, was sentenced on Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 to 10 years in prison on charges that he assaulted those who attacked him.

On December 31, 2012, O’Donovan was attacked, beaten and stabbed by at least five men shouting homophobic slurs at a New Year’s Eve party. O’Donovan defended himself with a pocketknife and left the scene, receiving treatment for stab wounds and injuries to his head and body at an Atlanta Medical Center. Hours later, police arrested O’Donovan as he was receiving treatment, charging him with five counts of felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. A superseding charge of attempted murder was handed down to O’Donovan at a later date.

On August 12, 2014, O’Donovan was sentenced to prison for 10 years through a negotiated plea deal.

In response, The Luke O’Donovan Support Committee issued the following statement:

“This is the epitome of a hate crime. Witnesses report seeing between 5 and 12 men attacking O’Donovan, stomping on his head and body, and stabbing him in the back while calling him a ‘faggot.’

“The facts of this case were clearly biased due to the group nature of the attack and the complicity of some onlookers. The demonization of O’Donovan’s actions is part of a growing trend: criminalizing those who successfully defend themselves from hate crimes.

“O’Donovan’s defense team was only able to negotiate the 10-year sentence after video footage surfaced of one of O’Donovan’s assailants participating in an attack of a transgender woman on July 3.

“These arduous court proceedings have illustrated that the court and the presiding judge are homophobic. During O’Donovan’s July 1 immunity hearing, Judge Markle allowed the prosecution to use bigoted language in open court, asking every witness if the term “faggot” was offensive or just a synonym for other “non-offensive” terms like “pussies,” “bitches,” or “nigger.” Before sentencing O’Donovan, Judge Markle stated that the 10- year sentence is much too lenient, and despite agreeing to the plea negotiated by the Defense and the Prosecution, Judge Markle added an arcane, punitive stipulation effectively “banishing” O’Donovan from the state of Georgia during the eight years of his probation.

“Homophobic and transphobic attacks in Atlanta are becoming more prevalent. For example, earlier this summer, a group of men accosted, beat, and stripped two transgender women nude on a MARTA train.

“O’Donovan’s case has received little media coverage in Atlanta or nationally. During the ‘victim impact statements’ yesterday, Cheryl Mainor, mother of one of O’Donovan’s attackers, admitted to using her professional connections to suppress media stories about the case.”

The Luke O’Donovan Support Committee is asking Judge Markle to remove the criminal banishment from Luke’s probationary conditions. Supporters are encouraged to contact Judge Markle directly and to send letters and books to Luke O’Donovan throughout his sentence. For more information, visit:



  1. Shocking and horrifying. I used to think Atlanta was a civilized city.


  3. Luke was sentenced to 2 years in prison and 8 probation, not ten years in prison.

    • Luke was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Luke is eligible for release after 2, eligibility is not a mandate. The language is correct.

      • And that makes it better how?

      • Lest we be like them who believe anything they read as long as it confirms their prejudices, accuracy is important.

        No of course he should not have been charged let alone sentenced for defending himself but accuracy is important and two years is a lot better than ten.

    • He shouldn’t have been sentenced AT ALL!

      • He should never been brought to court. The ones who covered up this crime, and lied need to be tracked down and brought to court, or at least exposed. And expose them AGAIN and AGAIN, until something is done. Keep the appeals up for this young man.

    • It sounds like Luke O’Donovan was the victim of the attack… not the perpetuator… what happened to the five to twelve men also involved in the altercation? Were they charged with a crime or did they simply walk?

      This is a disgrace to those who believe in the system.

      Ultimately, this sentence will be reviewed and hopefully, sanity will prevail. In the meantime, the message we’re all receiving is anyone (and I do mean anyone) who does not fit the mold may find themselves at the wrong end of a jury, or judicial system–and we are incredibly naive if we don’t understand this…

    • He shouldn’t receive any sentence! And what happened to the bastards who attacked him??

    • I guess you would like him in prison for 10. Are you defending his sentencing? He should not be sentenced at all.

  4. Why would he accept a plea deal that puts him in jail for 10 years? He should have pled innocent and insisted on a jury trial!

    • Luke was facing 110 years should he have been sentenced on the 5 counts consecutively. This plea provided a 10 year cap with a possibility of release after 2. Its hard to judge what kind of pressure he was under. Please empathize with that.

      • And risk a homophobic jury and a definitely hostile judge?

      • No, he is definitely getting out in two years, minus the time he served when he was first arrested. Thats very definite. What should be the focus is Cheryl and her life goal bury this story under the rug. She admitted in court that she called a publisher and had them take down a story that made her son the bad guy, she has constantly commented on every article with the lies defending her son and acquaintances. Getting the right information to the judge, and moving past the Mainor reach is the only hope for reducing his sentence.

    • Because when you lose in a jury trial, after refusing the plea offer, typically, the judge will use the maximum sentence as punishment for challenging the court system. It is absolutely not “justice”, or constitutional in any way. But it is the reality of the American judicial system.

  5. Are people raising money to expose this judge for what he is, and help this guy while he’s in prison?

  6. Sherman should have just kept at it and burned the whole state to the ground and salted the earth. 150+ years later, we continue to reap the consequences of letting a society based on organized bigotry survive in the southern US.

    • Matt, Like this shit does not happen any place else? Get over your hate for the SOUTH. It is not 1962. Atlanta has a very diverse population. Check it out. It is not 1962.

      • ise, it is true that your state is getting to be more diverse, indeed has always been diverse. However you have to admit that all you have to do is look at the red state/ blue state thing to see where the bigotry is probably going to be more pronounced. If you doubt it, just look at the politicians who get sent to DC. Good news is that GA is getting more purple. But you still have this POS judge and places in GA that breed the kind of DA departments which would trump up these charges. This would never happen in the northeast, just for example.

  7. Is there an email or address that we can send letters to the judge? I’m horrified by the precedent that this sets.

  8. A clear fight for survival, something we are born with. The judge has let themselves down along with Luke and the gay community. This only encourages hate crimes and has put more life’s at risk. Freedom for Luke is the only option, don’t criminalise those who are fighting for their life – put yourself in his position then rethink your awful decision.

  9. People are currently raising money for Luke’s commissary and release. Luke is vegan and so far has not been receiving vegan food while imprisoned forcing him to have to buy food with his commissary. Also, he is in need of money for minutes to keep in contact with his family and friends, purchase hygiene products, paper and pens to write letters, and clothing to keep him warm. Not only does having these products help Luke get through his prison sentence easier it may also gain him respect among fellow prisoners and from the guards because the amount of money he receives is a symbol of how much he is cared for outside of prison. So please help Luke and donate.

  10. They got a asshole,judge In Montanadisbarred for this kinda shit,and they can get rid of this one too. I’d contact this US Attourneys office.

  11. I don’t live in America, but this is outrageous. This man, no matter what sexuality he is was viciously attacked and should have the right to defend himself. This article just shows that the American law system is a failure. The judge sentenced this man to 10 years in prison is an example of the putrid, disgusting bigotry that is rampant throughout America. It needs to stop.

    • I so agree – Please, Please put pressure on the US to expose this system as a corrupt bigoted system. I have been trying for years to tell ppl that we have a legal system NOT a justice system and that “Justice is blind” and “All men are created equal” are lies.

  12. I’d like to bash the prick that sentenced this guy. He deserves an award for fighting back.

  13. This is a huge miscarriage of justice. I have shared Luke’s story on several FB groups as well as Tweeted the ACLU LGBT and Southern Poverty Law Center.
    I will write to Luke as well.


  14. If he’d had a gun, and shot to kill, he could have claimed “Stand Your Ground.”

    • If that were the case, he would become no better than the Zimmermans of the world…

      • “The no better than they are” argument is horse shit. I wish he had shot them and gotten away with them. The should die slow. They should be fucking road-hauled and have their corpses strung up to rot. So should the copse who arrested him. So should the Judge who sentenced him. So should the DA who prosecuted him. So should the governor of Georgia and anyone else with the authority to pardon him who has yet to do so.

  15. Homophobia is a sign of ignorance and intolerance. This kind of behavior is not acceptable and the judgement should be overturned and his attackers should be prosecuted to the full extent of real law.

  16. This is absolutely horrifying. We should be protecting people from their attackers not blaming them. His attackers deserve AT LEAST the same punishment that he received. Since when is self defense the bigger crime? This is not justice.

  17. Why does not this community drop or change the terms “queer” and “gay”? They are insulting.

    • Why should we have to drop our identity? If I am gay I am NOT going back in the closet. Heterosexual people throw their identity in everyone’s face every day, but I bet you wouldn’t ask them to deny their sexuality.

  18. Where are the attackers?? They should have been charged with a Hate crime and Rot in Jail!!
    Not the Victim!!!!!Sickness in Our Courts!!!!!

  19. Isn’t Georgia a “Stand Your Ground” state? He probably could have shot a black kid and not been sentenced to a day.

  20. Initially, they got bent that their sorry attempt didn’t go as planned and they got pwned by “a queer”, and then the good-ol-boy network backed ’em up to continue the attempt to save face because they were too embarrassed to let the truth get out – that not all of us are delicate flowers that will wilt and accept what they dish out.

  21. The southern states have rinky-dink judges and juries?

    You don’t say, Atticus Finch….

  22. I’m so glad I don’t live in america. It’s like reading about some brutal, medieval society….

  23. I didn’t know anything about this story prior to today. While doing some research, it seems as though O’Donovan may have been the aggressor, while trying to retaliate for getting kicked out of a party.

    • I see a lot of people defending his action of “self defense”. However, he LEFT THE PARTY AND CAME BACK WITH A KNIFE. To me, this was him taking retribution. The confrontation that initially led to his leaving the party may have been driven by homophobia, but it seems as though he could have avoided these charges/sentencing if he would have not come back to the party and started stabbing people. Based on the police report, it seems that the charges are justified…

      Read about it here:


      • I was wondering how he could get out and open a pocket knife while being ganged up on like that.

      • Good for him. He should have come buck with a fucking chainsaw.

    • That story was written the day after the event — before all of the facts of the case became known. I would suggest you read more before making your judgment.

    • Thank you Charles – yea, it seemed a little non-sensical. Whether we’re Left or Right we should present all the pertinent facts of a case, and too often that doesn’t happen.

  24. I’m not a lawyer, but wouldn’t it have been better to take it to trial so that they could appeal? It doesn’t sound to me like he got the best legal advice on taking a plea deal when it was clearly self-defense.

  25. Where is the petition to get this homophobic judge removed from office?

  26. I plead the blood of Jesus over Luke and his family. This is DISGUSTING and GOD WILL JUDGE THE UNJUST IN TIME. I’m scared for all that participated in this innocent human being’s conviction.

  27. Disgusting. Mr. O’Donovan needs to be let go. The men who attacked him are the ones that should be put in jail.

  28. 2 Years is waaaaay too long. I’m glad he didn’t get more time but I wish he could have delivered more injury to those mfers without spending time in jail. They deserved what they got. This has got to overturned!!!!

  29. this is heart breaking…. would it have been better if he had died?? This is where the system is SO FLAWED!! Who tried to help?? Who else would have saved him?????


  30. This is appalling! And since when are words such as “pussies,” “bitches” and “nigger” considered to be “non-offensive”?!?! Having used all three of those words myself, shamefully, I consider them to be VERY offensive when used in most contexts! This judge is, clearly, disturbed and should not be on the bench … ANY bench!

  31. Why in the world would he want to stay in Georgia? I wish the civilized people living in these horrible states would move, then eventually all the haters can just beat each other to death. Hear that Texas? Florida? If you are a sane, intelligent human being, LEAVE and help us to lessen the power of these idiots who love judges who are racist and anti-everyone except people just like them. Sickening!

  32. I’ll put my money that the Judge is also homophobic and probably the lawyers too. No person with common sense could have keep this case alive for more than 10 seconds. I can go even further and imagine that the Judge is maybe a closeted KKK member.

  33. The REAL issue is that LUKE wasn’t carrying a few firearms. If he had been he could have shot them all, and maybe a few of the complicit bvystanders then claimed Stand Your Ground!

  34. Obviously this is a disgusting example of injustice … Homophobia is just being continued with this idiotic sentencing… True justice needs to be served!

  35. In all fairness, i feel the verbiage in this tory, while technically correct, is still misleading. He will for all purposes only serve two years in prison. Still, absolutely insane and revolting story, but i hate misleading headlines, especially when you mentioned the 8 years probation. it’s only 8 years probation if he serves the two year minimum.

    • Regardless how the headline feels, it is accurate. Luke was sentenced to 10 years in prison, how that sentence will be split will ultimately be decided by the state dept of probation.

  36. Really? Are we all on the same planet?

  37. Time for education for moronic thinking ; time now for this to stop

  38. Justice did not prevail in this court. I hope has appeals this ruling. This is reprehensible.

  39. So much injustice in our “wonderful America” that prides itself as the model of integrity that the rest of the world should be following and emulating…. Puke!!

  40. His alledged victims should be named and shamed, they are sick vile scumbags who need to be put down

  41. I don’t understand. It is legal to use a gun in self-defence against a person that you suspect may have a weapon (even if they don’t actually have one), shoot that gun and kill the person yet still walk free. However, if you are being actively attacked by a group of people who you know have weapons, and you use a pocket knife in self-defence then you can get sent to jail? I am so confused about the lack of coherence here.

  42. Here’s Judge Markle’s number. He shouldn’t be able to answer his phone with out knowing that what he did was wrong. Be as civil as you can be and let him know that every gay, transgender or straight person have the right to defend themselves when their life is in danger. 404-613-4378

  43. This judgement is horrifying. Do we have no right to defend ourselves. I am disgusted.

    • You have a choice and the right but I’m afraid that the people who need the second the most are the people who argue against it and for gun control. You have the right, and the agency to bring justice to this situation. But are you willing to do the ONLY THING THAT WILL BRING CHANGE? THE ONLY THING THESE TYRANTS UNDERSTAND? Do you have a firearm? If not, why NOT? Do you train/practice with your firearm? If not, WHY NOT? It’s our only hope. There is justice to be had. But will anyone be selfless enough to bring it about? SAD SAD SAD. PS. Best comment ever above, … and salt the earth. Sad but Oh so true.

  44. This is the stupidest deal I’ve ever heard. My daughter is a lesbian and I worry about her every day. And it’s because of rulings like this. This is not justice!

  45. This shouldn’t be happening. Is justice now being ignored in place of homophobia?

  46. Would he be able to appeal and take it to another court? Curiousity.

  47. This is a travesty of justice. So sad that so many horrible one sided crimes are ignored when things like this are so heavily and brutally punished. My ancestors would be disgusted by this mockery of justice.

  48. Like is obviously the VICTIM of a hate crime! And he “stood his ground” with the only weapon he had. Will our justice system ever be fair?

  49. this is shocking and disturbing. yet I’m not hearing a word about this from LGBT organizations, none of whom ever take a stand in support of LGBT people who need them.
    This guy needs to be let out of jail, and LGBT orgs need to be held accountable for not taking a stand against instances like this.

  50. Let him go! This is all way too absurd and foolish!

  51. Just shows how prejudice and unjust the legal can be. I’m infuriated about this and we all need to share this so true justice will be served.

  52. This punishment to him is a disgrace to our society. Hate crimes are dispicable,cowardly,inhumane and not to be tolerated in any means or form. You people are sending the wrong message to horrific demons in our society. It is not acceptable to harm another human or animal.

  53. This judgement is unacceptable. Self defense from homophobic attacks is justified. Please reconsider this.

  54. This is shocking Why is he being punished for defending himself This is not right He needs to be released How did this get this bad There is something so wrong with the law.

  55. You should report the judge for judicial misconduct and use that complaint to get a new trial. Plus sue the attackers and use that proceeding to get more evidence. Yes, I am a lawyer.

  56. I despair of justice in the USA. This country has lost all sense of decency.

  57. This is disgusting and OUTRAGE! a victim of a hate crime and he’s sentenced to 2 years in prison and his attackers don’t get jail time. America is really messed up. Shame on Atlanta. I will never step in that city ever.

  58. Atlanta is not traditionally Southern so the comments criticizing the region are unnecessary and quite irrelevant. Do the 1996 Olympics ring a bell for anyone? Atlanta is a worldwide known city and quite diverse. Luke O’Donovan wanted to start trouble that night and he got himself into that situation due to the aggressive way in which he carries himself. He is 19 and was drunk beyond comprehension at that party which happened in January of 2013 so he was 18 when that happened. He simply should not have been drinking alcohol, in Reynoldstown, at such a young age. This sort of incident could have easily happened in a neighborhood of New York City or San Francisco but alas, it’s easy to scapegoat the South right?

  59. …so he plead guilty? Why plead guilty?!!?! The evidence must have been stacked against him. I wouldn’t plead guilty unless I was guilty! I’m not sure that this brief article conveys the full facts or situation at all…don’t you think that maybe the justice system is better at handling these situations than a sensationalist journalist and internet-nobodies!!!!

  60. I cannot even believe we are discussing how “appropriate” HIS sentance is! WTF is wrong with everybody? So, its ok that this man was a VICTIM who was STABBED, kicked, punched and belittled is now having to serve ANY time when the PERPETRATORS walk away??? How can this be? I am flabbergasted! Last time i checked, he acted in SELF DEFENSE! And which one of the little coward punks that violated this man pressed charges? What kind of backwoods, hate filled, ignorant, backwards place is Atlanta? The prosecutor, “judge,” and all the real perps and their families are the ones who should be locked up, NOT THE VICTIM! Something is SERIOUSLY WRONG with the Country when we can allow a bunch of coward thugs to press charges against a man who DEFENDED HIMSELF and even worse……WHAT KIND OF BASTARDIZATION OF THE LAW WILLINGLY ALLOWED THE CASE TO ADVANCE?? This is just UNBELIEVABLE! All those involved need to be tried and prosecuted for crimes against COMMON SENSE and ETHICAL LAW! This is one man who will NEVER STEP FOOT IN SUCH A HIDEOUS, ABHORRENT STATE! There is a nice special place in HELL for all of the REAL CRIMINALS in this case! And for the piece of work “mother” who tried to keep this story at bay! SHAME ON YOU GEORGIA! Whats next? Reintroduction of slavery?

  61. The South is an embarrassment to the Human Race. Wish we could annex these backwards hillbillies from America. Pathetic.

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