Crime, Law and Justice

Two plead guilty in February attack on transgender woman

A transit police squad parked outside a transit station
A Transit Police squad car parks outside the Lake Street light rail station March 6.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

Two men who attacked a transgender woman at a Minneapolis light rail station in February are expected to receive four-month jail sentences as part of plea agreements with prosecutors.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said it did not seek hate crime sentencing enhancements because there is no evidence to indicate that anti-trans bias motivated the men.

Keaten James Morris, 19, and Kevin Dewayne York, 23, each pleaded guilty to third-degree assault in the Feb. 27 attack at Lake Street station that left the victim with a broken rib, a collapsed lung and cranial bleeding.

The victim, who was not named in court documents, was initially taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in critical condition but later stabilized and released.

In their initial criminal complaints, prosecutors wrote that “officers had concerns that the assault was due to anti-transgender bias.”

Investigators enhanced the audio from a security camera and determined that “the evidence is that this was not an assault motivated by bias and the plea agreement holds the defendants accountable for the conduct that did occur,” Nicholas Kimball, a spokesperson Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, said in a statement to MPR News.

Morris and York pleaded guilty at separate hearings to a count each of third-degree assault. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop aggravated robbery charges. Under Minnesota law, the men are required to serve two-thirds, or 80 days of their 120-day sentences in the Hennepin County Workhouse and the rest on supervised release.

Morris was released from custody last week pending sentencing. York remains jailed in connection with a separate case from Ramsey County. Judge Peter Cahill set their sentencing hearings for July.