TOWSON — A Baltimore County judge sentenced a 19-year-old woman to five years in prison Tuesday for her role in the beating of a transgender woman inside a McDonald’s restaurant, an attack that attracted national attention when it was captured on video and posted online.
Teonna Brown, who pleaded guilty last month to first-degree assault and a hate crime, apologized in court.
“My mother didn’t raise me like this,” said Brown, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with five years suspended. She must also serve three years of probation.
The video posted online shows a woman being attacked outside the restroom of the restaurant in Rosedale and apparently having a seizure. When a woman approached the girls and told them to stop, she ended up getting punched in the face.
The woman who was attacked, Chrissy Polis, did not attend the sentencing, but her victim-impact statement was read aloud.
“While being beaten, I felt like I was going to die that day. I was kicked in the chest, crotch and head. Chunks of my hair were pulled out. They were all over me, and I couldn’t get them to stop,” she wrote. “My private life has been exposed to the world. I lost my job. I can’t go anywhere without the fear of getting hurt again. I want to go into a hole and hide. I do not forgive them for what they did to me.”
People who commit violent crimes will be prosecuted and face time in jail, said State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.
“It was one of the worst beatings I have seen in a long time, particularly when you realize how long it transpired: the better part of 15 minutes. There were periods where they left the scene and came back,” he said. “Clearly they had time to reflect upon what they were doing and choose to go back.”
Hate crimes are infrequently prosecuted, in part because prosecutors have to prove motive, Shellenberger said, noting that he cannot recall any hate crime convictions in the past six years.
“But in this case it was clear from watching the video and interviewing witnesses that it was a hate crime,” he said.
A girl who was 14 at the time of the attack acknowledged her role in juvenile court and was committed to a detention facility.
Gov. Martin O’Malley has pledged to seek greater protections for transgender people.