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Hate Crime Suspect Found Incompetent to Stand Trial

by Seth Hemmelgarn
Wednesday May 8, 2013

A man accused of elbowing an 11-year-old boy and calling him a "faggot" is likely headed to a state hospital after being found incompetent to stand trial.

According to court testimony, in January, Nicholas Frabasilio, 46, hit the boy's cheek with his elbow when he encountered the child and his family in Chinatown and said, "I fucked up that faggot boy." A backpack allegedly belonging to Frabasilio with a patch that said "Heterosexual" was at the scene.

In February, a San Francisco Superior Court judge held Frabasilio to answer on battery and child endangerment charges in the case, which was prosecuted as a hate crime.

Deputy Public Defender Alex Lilien eventually declared doubt as to Frabasilio's competency to stand trial, and at a hearing in March, he said Frabasilio "appears psychotic."

"It's difficult for me to prepare a defense for him on these charges," Lilien said.

A judge suspended criminal proceedings in the case, which Assistant District Attorney Victor Hwang prosecuted.

After a doctor's report was submitted, in April a judge found Frabasilio, who's in custody in San Francisco County jail, incompetent to stand trial. He will likely be placed in Napa State Hospital. Frabasilio could be committed for up to three years, although that period could be extended if he's not restored to competency, according to Lilien.

In the months leading up to the January incident, Frabasilio appears to have made numerous anti-gay remarks, including in postings to a Facebook page for the Straight Liberation Movement.

People who know Frabasilio described him in interviews as a civil rights and anti-war activist whose personality appeared to change after Berkeley police allegedly beat him several year ago.

Dean Tuckerman, 61, an out gay man who first met Frabasilio more than 15 years ago, said that before that encounter with police, "Nick had not done anything homophobic."

"He had a good sense of humor," Tuckerman, who lives in Bellingham, Washington, said. "He was always willing to do things to help people out."

Jesse Palmer, 44, who's known Frabasilio for about 25 years, said, "Nick was certainly, back in the 1980s, very comfortable with the gay community and was doing events with gay organizers."

"It's just really incredibly painful" to see how Frabasilio's changed, Palmer added. "... This is not the Nick that I knew."

The next court date in Frabasilio's current case is May 15.

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