GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — A Brown County judge has rejected the plea deal that was offered to a Green Bay prison guard accused of throwing a woman into a fire and choking her after calling her a homophobic slur.
Shane Nolan, the 31-year-old former Green Bay Correctional Institute officer, was offered a deal that would have reduced his charges to misdemeanors and removed the hate crime penalties. At a plea hearing Tuesday, Brown County Circuit Court Judge Kendall Kelley rejected the plea, sending the case to trial.
The incident happened last July when Nolan allegedly called Dessiray Koss a derogatory term for LGBTQ people, threw her into an active fire pit and tried to strangle her when she fought back. Advocates with the LGBTQ advocacy group Diverse & Resilient are representing Koss in the case. They allege that Nolan had originally believed Koss was a man and attacked her upon learning that she was a woman.
They say they were outraged by the plea deal, which they say was negotiated by District Attorney David Lasee against Koss's wishes.
"The notion of a hate crime is not merely that the victim is a member of one of the protected classes, and I don't think there is any doubt that she is a member of the protected class, it's whether or not we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime was motivated by that fact," Lasee said at Tuesday's hearing.
At the hearing, the judge asked Koss's advocates whether they would prefer to delay the plea hearing, accept the plea deal or take the case to trial. Victim advocate Nick Ross said Koss would prefer to go to trial.
"The victim did not consent to the plea agreement and we do definitely believe this would go against the greater public interest because this extreme form of violence would present safety concerns to the general public, especially the LGBTQ community," Ross said. "Also we feel that accepting the plea agreement deteriorates the seriousness of the offense and also promotes disrespect for the law, specifically hate crime laws."
Nolan faces his original charges of substantial battery and disorderly conduct with the original hate crime penalties. His trial has been scheduled for February 15th, 2023. Diverse & Resilient advocates call it a victory that the case will be prosecuted as a hate crime.
"If you look at the hate crime law itself, all of the elements were there," said Kathy Flores, the director of the Diverse & Resilient Anti-Violence Program. "Today Diverse & Resilient believes we've taken a small step forward in honoring what the victim wants, but so far it's just been a travesty of justice."