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Man who threw boiling water on gay couple sentenced to 40 years in prison

Marquez Tolbert testified that after pouring hot water on them, Blackwell grabbed him as he jumped and screamed in pain and told him: “Get out of my house with all that gay.”

During the trial for Martin Blackwell a lawyer holds a pot they say Blackwell used to pour boiling water on his girlfriend's gay son and his friend as they slept.
During the trial for Martin Blackwell a lawyer holds a pot they say Blackwell used to pour boiling water on his girlfriend's gay son and his friend as they slept.
Image: AP Photo/John Bazemore

A JUDGE HAS sentenced a Georgia man to 40 years in prison for throwing scalding water on a gay couple sleeping in an apartment, leaving them with severe burns that required surgery.

Jurors deliberated for about 90 minutes before finding Martin Blackwell, 48, guilty of eight counts of aggravated battery and two counts of aggravated assault in the February attack on Anthony Gooden and Marquez Tolbert.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Henry Newkirk said the evidence was overwhelming and that Blackwell had behaved in a soulless and malicious way.

He noted that it “takes a long time” for a pot of water to boil.

“You had so many outs where the voice of reason could have taken over,” the judge told Blackwell, who had faced up to 80 years in prison.

Prosecutors said it was a vicious, premeditated attack. Tolbert testified that after pouring hot water on them, Blackwell grabbed him as he jumped and screamed in pain and told him: “Get out of my house with all that gay.”

Reckless

Blackwell’s defence acknowledged that he poured water on the pair, but asked jurors to find that it was reckless conduct.

“It’s not about hate. It’s about old-school culture, old-school thinking,” Monique Walker told the jury.

The defence didn’t call any witnesses and didn’t present any evidence. Blackwell, who remained stoic throughout the trial, did not take the stand. He showed no reaction when the verdict was read.

Blackwell was a long-distance truck driver and lived with his girlfriend, Kim Foster, at her sister’s apartment in College Park when he was in town. Gooden, who is Foster’s son, and Tolbert had been dating about a month and were sleeping at the apartment Feb. 12 after working an overnight shift when Blackwell dumped scalding water on them.

Blackwell’s attorney said her client felt the young men’s behavior was disrespectful and that there were certain things people sharing a house shouldn’t do.

Prosecutor Fani Willis scoffed at the idea.

“We’re not going back to when you get to treat people differently because of who they are,” she said in closing arguments.

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