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Updated 7 hours ago
A Baldwin Borough man will serve no additional prison time despite pleading guilty Thursday to a federal hate crime for beating a man in a Pittsburgh T station after a Kenny Chesney concert.
Ryan Kyle, 23, was sentenced in U.S. District Court, Downtown, to three years in prison. The term will run concurrently with a three- to six-year state sentence he is serving in connection with the same incident.
The victim, Kevin Lockett, who is black, told police that he heard Kyle and his four friends, all of whom are white, utter racial slurs aboard a light-rail train before a drunken argument and assault took place at the Wood Street station, Downtown.
“I hope this has taught you some valuable lessons, you and your friends, and it won't happen again,” U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon told Kyle after the sentencing.
“It won't,” Kyle replied.
It's the first time someone in Western Pennsylvania has been charged with a federal hate crime since the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hates Crimes Prevention Act was enacted in 2009. That act makes it illegal to cause physical harm because of expressed racial animus.
Lockett, who was 53 at the time of the assault, was riding the T on May 2015 with a rolling cooler of bottled water he planned to sell, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Cindy Chung, when Kyle's group started talking with him. It started friendly, but tensions rose. Lockett heard someone in the group use the N-word on the train, Chung said, but was unsure who said it. Lockett missed his stop, so he got off at Wood Street, and so did Kyle's group.
The Port Authority Police surveillance footage, which lacks audio, shows Kyle and Lockett talking on the platform, then Kyle grabs Lockett by the waist and throws him down onto the tracks. After Lockett gets back up on the platform, Kyle beats Lockett unconscious, punching him 10 times in the face and head, while his friends roll away the blue cooler.
Kyle's attorney, Almon Burke, said Kyle did not have complete recall of the incident. Burke said Kyle admits to using the N-word.
When the judge asked Kyle if he had enough recall to plead guilty to causing bodily injury to Lockett because of his perceived race or color, Kyle said yes.
Lockett, who sat in the courtroom Thursday, had not planned to testify, but changed his mind.
“This whole thing hasn't been right,” said Lockett, who wore sunglasses. “These guys aren't remorseful.”
The incident, which gained national attention, has affected his family and grandchildren, he said, but he has also appreciated the support he has received.
“There are so many people that are against what happened,” he said. “I never got a chance to meet this woman... who did see what was happening and made sure they didn't get away and made sure I was OK,” Lockett said.
That woman, who came over to help him after he was on the ground unconscious, was white, Lockett said, while another woman, who was black, sat on a bench at the station and did nothing.
Lockett, who suffered fractured facial bones and impaired vision, needed five different surgeries, Chung said.
Bissoon ordered Kyle to pay Lockett $800 in restitution for the stolen cooler, medical needs and lost cellphone.
Four other white men in Kyle's group, who did not touch Lockett, were charged in state court with conspiracy. They were ordered to serve probation and perform community service, but did not receive prison time.
Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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