Guilty Plea in Racially Charged Beating

UPDATE 9:40 AM

As expected, Terry Rawls entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge of second-degree assault.  Rawls had no comment as he walked by our camera.  His lawyer Dennis Knizley argues his client wasn’t as involved in the attack as some others and the sentencing hearing will show that.

While reading the charges a state prosecutor acknowledged there was more than one attacker in this case.  Police only charged Rawls claiming they only had enough evidence to support a charge against one person.

 

ORIGINAL STORY

Terry Rawls is expected to plead guilty to a lesser offense instead of going through with a jury trial Monday morning.  Rawls was charged with first-degree assault, but his lawyer Dennis Knizley said his client will plead guilty to second-degree assault.  Rawls, who is black, is accused of beating Matthew Owens, who is white, with a baseball bat in 2012.

The story briefly garnered national attention.  Owens claimed he was beaten by a mob of people in a racially motivated crime.  One person claimed to have heard a member of the mob yell “that’s justice for Trayvon.”  That’s a reference to slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

This picture of Mathew Owens garnered national attention due to the racial overtones of the crime.
This picture of Mathew Owens garnered national attention due to the racial overtones of the crime.

 

As the case unfolded in court, local leaders sought to downplay the racial overtones of the attack.  Police said they only had evidence to charge one person, Terry Rawls, with assault.  Investigators also said they had no evidence anyone referenced Trayvon Martin during the incident.

The attack happened outside Owens home on Delmar Drive.  Owens had yelled at some kids in the neighborhood and exchanged racial slurs with the group.

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