The county attorney’s office addressed questions about hate-crime charges in the attack on the city’s East Side.
A day after the sister of St. Paul beating victim Raymond Widstrand said he was slowly being taken out of a medically induced coma, the Ramsey County attorney’s office addressed questions of whether it could prosecute the case as a hate crime — and the value of such a move.
The attorney’s office, citing multiple media inquiries, said Monday that police had yet to provide information that racial bias was a motivating factor in the Aug. 4 attack on Widstrand, who is white.
According to charges filed last Friday against Issac Maiden, 19, who is black, Widstrand was knocked to the ground, and then stomped on and kicked, after he walked into a large crowd watching a fight between girls outside a party on the city’s East Side.
Authorities believe many of the assailants were members of the East Side Boyz or their affiliates, the Ham Crazy gang.
Widstrand was taken to Regions Hospital with what was described as severe, potentially fatal brain swelling.
The attorney’s office said in its statement that the police investigation was ongoing and that racial bias, if proven, could be an “aggravating factor” favoring a longer sentence than that presumed under sentencing guidelines.
But taken alone, racial bias in such a case was a misdemeanor-level offense, the attorney’s office added.
Maiden has been charged with first-degree assault.
Widstrand’s sister said Sunday that doctors were beginning to take him out of the coma and that the family hoped to know more about his condition “within the next few days.”
On Monday, an entry on Widstrand’s CaringBridge website said: “We ask that everyone keep Ray in your thoughts during the next few days while the sedatives leave Ray’s system. Ray will have a very quiet next two days as his body heals.”
Anthony Lonetree • 651-925-5036