Charges against suspects in Mother’s Day beating being reviewed by DA, federal agents

Charges against suspects in Mother’s Day beating being reviewed by DA, federal agents
Photo of Donald Ray Dickerson provided by the EBR Sheriff's Office.

POSTED: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 1:21pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 4:13pm

The investigation continues today into the case of a family attacked on Mother’s Day at a local gas station.

“This case is not over. This investigation is ongoing,” Sgt. Don Kelly, Baton Rouge Police Department, explained. “What we have done since then is to contact the local office of the FBI and we’re in communication with federal authorities to see if there might be the possibility of exploring a hate crime charge from a federal standpoint.”

Three suspects were charged on Sunday, May 12 for allegedly attacking a father, mother and their 14-year-old daughter at the Chevron gas station located at the intersection of Plank and Scenic.

“It’s a terrible crime,” Sgt. Kelly said. “It’s everybody’s worst nightmare.”

Donald Ray Dickerson, 41, is accused of instigating the attack against the 36-year-old victim, who was in the store to pay for gas.

Witnesses told investigators that Dickerson told the victim “you’re in the wrong neighborhood, and you’re not going to get out,” in the moments prior to the physical altercation.

“The detectives felt that night, based on the information available to them, that it did not meet the criteria to establish probable cause to charge the suspects with a hate crime under the state statue,” Sgt. Kelly explained. “The federal criteria for a hate crime is a bit different than the state standpoint.”

Devin Bessey, 24, and Ashley Simmons, 22, were also implicated in the attack and were charged with Simple Battery. Officials are reviewing the evidence to see if an upgrade to their charge is warranted.

“Investigators with the Baton Rouge Police Department are reassessing the injuries sustained by the victims,” Sgt. Kelly said. “What we want to do is get a better picture of all the circumstances that led up to the attack on the young man and his family.”

All of the additional information obtained by investigators has been turned over to the District Attorney’s office as well as federal investigators. The two agencies will determine whether the additional charge of a hate crime is warranted. Investigators with the Baton Rouge Police Department, along with the District Attorney, will reassess the remaining charges.

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