HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — A former Marshall University football player was sentenced Monday to six months in jail in an attack on two men he saw kissing.
Steward Butler was accused of punching the men and shouting homophobic slurs after seeing them kissing outdoors in Huntington in April 2015. Butler apologized before being sentenced on two counts of battery.
In May, the West Virginia Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of felony civil rights charges against Butler. Circuit Judge Paul Farrell ruled last year that Butler could not be charged with a hate crime because it appeared that state lawmakers intended to leave protections based on sexual orientation out of the law.
The Supreme Court said lawmakers have rejected every attempt to include sexual orientation since the law was enacted three decades ago. The high court said there have been at least 26 failed attempts to amend the statute to include sexual orientation.
At Monday’s sentencing, Cabell County assistant prosecutor Lauren Plymale ridiculed the state law and sought the maximum sentence for Butler,