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Man guilty of brutal racial attack could face life in prison

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BATON ROUGE - Jurors found a man guilty of second degree battery in a brutal attack at a gas station two years ago.

The decision by the jury means Donald Dickerson is facing the possibility of a life sentence for being a habitual offender.

"He has four prior offenses," District Attorney Hillar Moore said. "Purse snatching, armed robbery, federal gun charge, and felony sex offense, that's four convictions and this is his fifth."

Closing arguments wrapped up Thursday afternoon and the jury reached its verdict shortly after.  Dickerson was found guilty of beating a man in May 2013 while he and his wife were stopped with their family at a gas station on their way home to St. Francisville.

David Ray was brutally attacked and knocked unconscious. Ray testified Dickerson told him he was "in the wrong neighborhood and wouldn't make it out" when he attacked him. The case drew national attention for its racial implications, though the district attorney chose later not to file hate crime charges.

"I didn't win anything," David Ray said. "My family didn't win anything. We've had two years of constantly being reminded of that night, and now we are ready to let it go and be done with it."

Prosecutors finished their case Thursday by showing photos of the injuries the family sustained in the attack, and defense attorneys called only two witnesses before resting their case.

Defense attorneys admitted in closing statements that Dickerson fought with the victims, but contended he made a mistake and shouldn't be convicted of battery. The attorneys also pointed at what they said were problems with the investigation and evidence not submitted as part of the trial.

During the trial, pictures of heroes began to emerge. Those heroes are the African American patrons at the gas station that rendered aid to the white family that was stopped and brutally attacked.

"Thank you! I'm going to try through the District Attorney's office to set up a meeting and pay them respects they're owed," Ray said. "There's good in this world and these guys proved it."

Dickerson will be sentenced on September 3, 2015.


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