PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Anti-gay tweets from a young woman charged in an attack on a gay couple show the homophobic views that fueled her actions, a Philadelphia prosecutor argued Tuesday in a case that led the city to expand its hate crime law.
Kathryn Knott, the daughter of a suburban police chief, is charged with taking part in an attack that left one man hospitalized with a broken jaw. She testified for about an hour Tuesday and denied shouting slurs or striking either victim.
Knott, 25, said she moved toward the fray to try to intervene.
"Does she want to get involved in a fight with four men, all bigger than her?" defense lawyer Louis Busico argued Tuesday before a courtroom packed with supporters for both the defendant and the victims.
However, several prosecution witnesses identified her as the woman in a white dress who shouted slurs and threw a punch during a confrontation that began when her group of 15 friends leaving a birthday dinner tangled with two gay men heading out for pizza.
"This was a hate crime," Assistant District Attorney Michael Barry said in his closing remarks Tuesday, after the jury saw tweets in which Knott used anti-gay language to describe a bad hair day or lame song. "She can't help herself. It's bubbling right below the surface. ... It shows she shares the state of mind with her co-conspirators."
Two male friends have pleaded guilty and received probation — and were barred from downtown — but Knott went to trial to fight the charges. She faces several years in prison if convicted of aggravated assault and other crimes.
Knott was out with friends from her Catholic high school on Sept. 11, 2014, when they encountered the couple and started spewing profanity-laced slurs, prosecutors said. Before long, the victims were being pummeled. Co-defendants Philip Williams and Kevin Harrington denied any homophobic intent when they entered their pleas.
Knott, in her testimony, was also forced to explain tweets about being banned from a bar, kicking down a door during a police raid with her father, and having him track down and ticket a driver who ran her off the road. She said she did not remember why she was thrown out of the bar in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
"I was in college on spring break and it was a poor decision," she said of posting the tweet.
Knott, of Southampton, Bucks County, lost her job at a hospital following her arrest. She remains free on bail. The jury is set to start deliberations Wednesday morning.
Weeks after the attack, the city amended its hate crime laws to include sexual orientation.