Tea Party member gets 8 years for attacking Obama supporter
LAWRENCEVILLE — A Gwinnett judge sentenced a tea party member to serve eight years in prison for attacking and hospitalizing a President Barack Obama supporter during a 2009 bar room altercation, a prosecutor said Thursday.Jurors convicted Carnesville resident Larry Morgan, 39, of aggravated assault and two counts of aggravated battery this week for smashing several bones in the victim’s face with a pool cue on Jan. 31, 2009 — a few days after Obama’s inauguration. Deliberations took only an hour.
The single blow, which broke the pool stick in half, happened about 1:30 a.m. at Will Henry’s Tavern in Stone Mountain, said Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Taylor, who prosecuted.The victim, Patrick O’Neill, then 24, was hospitalized for five days and endured a months-long recovery. He testified that he suffered numerous facial fractures, including a broken nose and orbital ethmoid bone, Taylor said.
“The pictures of his injuries were some of the most egregious pictures I have seen,” Taylor said. “(He) is very lucky to be alive.”According to testimony, trouble began when Morgan was talking to other bar patrons about his negative feelings about Obama, when one of O’Neill’s friends said he had voted for the president.
Morgan replied, “Well, you are stupid as hell,” before making some racist comments or jokes, witnesses testified, Taylor said.
All people involved were white, she said.
Later, O’Neill and his friend were laughing about or poking fun at Morgan’s comments when he became angry, fetched a pool cue and broke it across O’Neill’s face. The impact was so forceful that the victim had no memory of being struck or the circumstances leading up to it, Taylor said.Morgan, who testified he considers himself a tea party member, told the court he was acting in self-defense.
He claimed O’Neill and his friend had threatened “to beat him up in the parking lot,” Taylor said, recalling testimony.
Witnesses for the prosecution testified that Morgan tried to run from the scene, but a bouncer and other individuals held him down until police arrived.
Superior Court Judge Melodie Snell Conner sentenced Morgan immediately after the verdict, and he was taken into custody. He had been free on bond for more than two years after spending a day in jail.
There was no video of the incident, Taylor said.
The jury acquitted Morgan of one count of criminal damage to property in the second degree. That count was related to a window behind O’Neill that was broken in the attack.
Testimony conflicted as to whether the victim fell back into the window after being hit or if the splintered pool cue broke it, Taylor said.
“It wasn’t clear how the window was broken,” she said. SOURCE