Katy man accused of hate crime in knockout age-style attack to be held until trial


Judge Frances Stacey on Friday refused to let Conrad Barrett remain free while awaiting trial. She ruled Stacey would be too great of a potential threat to the victim and society.

The 79-year-old victim is described by most as a good man, a nice man. On Friday, his attorney presented the court with a letter, asking that his accused attacker be held pending trial.

"He's afraid for his safety. He's afraid to leave his house," attorney O'Neil Williams said.

The victim has not been publicly identified because of his fear for his safety. The victim's jaw was broken in two places when he was sucker punched on November 24 while walking near his home in Katy.

Barrett, 27, was just arrested Thursday. Investigators say he planned the attack for more than a week, hunting potential prey. Prosecutors say Barrett took video of the attack on his phone.

"As they say in the hood, he decked him. He just cold cocked him and knocked him to the ground," assistant U.S. attorney Ruben Perez said.

The case is being tried as a hate crime, prosecutors say, because of other videos found on Barrett's phone in which he makes several derogatory remarks toward African Americans. But Barrett's attorney argued that he has a history of mental illness, including a diagnosis with bi-polar disorder and time spent in an inpatient psychiatric facility.

Barrett's father testified on Friday that his son was off his meds, which include lithium, for at least three weeks prior to the attack.

"The fact of the matter is he was mentally ill before this occurred. And that's not a matter of convenience," Barrett's defense attorney George Parnham said.

Parnham also argued this case should be tried in a state court, instead of a federal one, where punishment upon conviction is less. If Barrett is convicted, he could spend up to 10 years in prison and pay as much as $250,000 fine.

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