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Ala. Lesbian Denies Thanksgiving Attack Was Hate Crime

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Thursday November 29, 2012

An Alabama woman who was brutally beaten by her girlfriend's 18-year-old brother on Thanksgiving now says that the alleged attacker was not motivated by her sexual orientation.

CBS affiliate WKRG Local 5 reports that shortly after Mallory Owens, 23, woke up in the hospital from a state of unconsciousness, she left and returned to her girlfriend Ally Hawkins' family's home to recover - the same place where she was beaten by her girlfriend's brother, Travis Hawkins Jr.

"I'm okay, I'm good. Just a bad, bad night," Owens, who suffered multiple skull fractures and crushed bones from the alleged attack, said.

But not only is Owens back with her girlfriend's family, she is also denying that Travis Hawkins Jr. beat her because she is a lesbian.

"A lot of things have happened between us, but it doesn't make me hate her brother," Owens told News 5. "I don't hate her family at all, or anybody for that matter."

Owens' girlfriend echoed her sentiments. She said her brother had his own reasons for the attack, which will be disclosed at another time, but the beating was not based on orientation.

"It's not a hate crime at all," Ally Hawkins said. "We both know the reason why this happened, and it doesn't make any excuses for him, I'm not defending him at all. I know why he was angry, and that will come out."

Travis Hawkins Jr. allegedly attacked Owens on Thanksgiving night while she celebrated the holiday with her girlfriend's family in Mobile, Ala. On Sunday, the teen was arrested on second-degree assault charges but posted bond.

Owens' mother initially called the incident a hate crime. "He tried to kill her. He's lucky he didn't kill her. She's lucky to be alive," Kristi Taylor said. "I didn't recognize her when I got here. It's hard to look at her like that." Taylor pleaded with her daughter not to have Thanksgiving with her girlfriend's family because she knew "how the family felt about her." But Owens insisted the Hawkins family were "trying to be nice."

The alleged victim's sister felt the same way and said that she wanted Travis Hawkins Jr. to go to prison for life. "He doesn't need to be out, because if he does he could do this to someone else or he'll finish it off with my sister," Avery Godwin said.

In addition to broken bones, Owens also had to undergo facial reconstruction surgery and needed metal plates in her cheekbones. Graphic photos of the young woman surfaced on Facebook and the story soon made national headlines.

The accused attacker's lawyer, James Byrd, said that Travis Hawkins Jr. is avoiding the public and fears for his life after he received death threats.

"People get a story and go with it, and before it's over it's an entirely different animal," said Byrd.

Travis Hawkins Jr.'s father, Travis Hawkins Sr., also defended his son, points out.

"He (Travis Jr.) had spent a lot of time with Ally and her friends," he said. "She has a nice community of lesbian friends that he enjoyed spending time with. He has several of them on his Facebook, speaks to them frequently, hangs out with them, that kind of thing. Their relationship was not a problem."

But Taylor wants Mobile District Attorney Ashley Rich to upgrade the charges against the teen to attempted murder. The New York Daily News notes that Owens will consult a plastic surgeon at the University of South Alabama Medical Center about her injuries.

Alabama, as is the case with most southern states, does not currently have hate crime laws that protect based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Travis Hawkins Jr. is set to appear in court on Dec. 10.