HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — The Harris County District Attorney’s Office has accused a white resident of committing a hate crime against a black man. It is possible the suspect is mentally unstable or has a “deep-seated animosity toward African-Americans,” prosecutors said in a release.
James Scott Lee II, 32, was scheduled to go before a Harris County judge Thursday morning to face an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge, but he did not appear because he is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.
“It can be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person is motivated by racial hatred, but in this case, the defendant’s own words supply the evidence to charge him with a hate crime,” First Assistant District Attorney Tom Berg said.
The suspect attacked the victim both verbally and physically Wednesday by allegedly unleashing a racial epithet while trying to stab the man, prosecutors said. Officers said Lee also in possession of brass knuckles at the time of his arrest.
“I hate n—– and I’m gonna kill me one today,” Lee was quoted as saying during the attack in a court document. Prosecutors said the victim escaped his alleged attacker by jumping into a car and locking the door.
Prosecutors said Lee has a history of violence, having been convicted of domestic assault and violation of a protective order.
Investigators said Lee, who authorities identified as white, chose his victim based on race. In response, the office said it has added “a rarely used hate crimes enhancement” to the charge.
Prosecutors have requested Lee be held on $250,000 bail, which is more than eight times the normal amount for an aggravated assault case.
If convicted, Lee could face five years to life in prison, instead of two to 20 years.