Kathryn Knott is staying in jail.
Philadelphia Judge Roxanne Covington refused to offer a new sentence during a hearing this morning, saying “hatred toward one group is no different than hatred toward all of us.”
Knott, 25, of Bucks County, hired a new attorney after she was sentenced to spend five to 10 months in prison in February by Covington. Her new attorney, William J. Brennan of Philadelphia, asked the judge to re-consider Knott’s sentence on the basis that her co-defendants were not sentenced to prison time.
Knott was convicted on charges stemming from a Sept. 11, 2014 incident dubbed as the Center City gay bashing. Following a four-day trial in December, a jury convicted Knott of most of the charges against her, save for two counts of aggravated assault that — despite apparent controversy in the jury room — could have required she spend more time in prison than the sentence she actually received.
At Monday’s hearing, Brennan asked Covington allow Knott either work release or the ability to serve the remainder of her incarceration in a house arrest situation at her residence in Fox Chase. He said meanwhile that she’s doing well in prison, is attending anger management classes and has a job cleaning the bathrooms. He then quoted Abraham Lincoln to the judge, saying “mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”
Brennan said it might be beneficial to “the community and the city” if Knott were to be a part of a public service announcement on intolerance to “proactively address” the ripple effects the well-publicized case had on the LGBT community and the city of Philadelphia.
Assistant district attorney Allison Ruth responded, saying that “it would be comical, your honor, if it wasn’t so offensive.”
“Quite frankly,” she said, “the best public service announcement to deter a future hate crime would be to stick to the sentence your honor rightfully imposed.”
Brennan shot back: “Who else is going to do a PSA on this… Mother Teresa?”
He then compared Knott to former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo, who was widely called a racist and an intolerant politician. Brennan pointed out that when Rizzo died, “African Americans and Hispanics lined the streets because he changed.”
(One of Rizzo’s most controversial statements was when he once told a newspaper reporter: “I’m going to make Attila the Hun look like a faggot after this election’s over.”)
Covington clearly didn’t buy Brennan’s argument and denied his motion to reconsider sentencing. She said that during Knott’s right to allocution during her sentencing hearing, she still didn’t take responsibility for the crimes of which she was convicted.
“She showed a complete disconnection from the incident itself,” Covington said, continuing: “There was no comprehension in the offensiveness in her commentary.”
Knott’s co-defendants, Philip R. Williams, 25, and Kevin J. Harrigan, 27, both accepted plea deals offered by the Office of the District Attorney and escaped jail time in favor of probation. Meanwhile, Knott elected to go to trial. During a February sentencing hearing, her former attorney Louis Busico, of Newtown, said that if Knott were to face a harsher punishment than Williams and Harrigan, she’d be faulted for exercising her constitutional right to go to trial.
Still, when Knott was sentenced, Covington had stern words for her, saying, “This behavior is a violation of human rights.”
Prosecutors had originally sought a sentence of nine to 23 months, but said they were happy with the judge’s decision and the victims in the case were satisfied. Knott was also required to pay upwards of $2,000 in fines and court costs, and is banned from coming into Philadelphia throughout the duration of her two years on probation, except to attend to probation-related issues.
During the trial, prosecutors laid out a narrative of the night in question during trial in which evidence showed Knott, Harrigan and Williams were with a group of about 15 friends celebrating Harrigan’s birthday when they left La Viola restaurant in Center City to head to another bar.
On the way, they encountered Zachary Hesse and Andrew Haught, a gay couple walking down Chancellor Street. Someone in the group used gay slurs to describe the men, and a scuffle started — that turned into an all-out brawl. Hesse, Haught and eyewitnesses testified they heard members of Knott’s group screaming “fucking faggots” while they were beating the couple on the side of the street.
Hesse was left with facial injuries after he said Knott hit him in the face. Haught was beaten to a bloody pulp and his facial bones were broken, causing him to have his jaw wired shut for more than six weeks to fix the damage to his face. After the fight, Knott and her group of friends left the scene. Some of them went to another bar afterwards.
Though one of three defendants, Knott bore the brunt of the national scrutiny, spending part of her testimony defending herself after prosecutors had introduced four tweets she sent that could be construed as anti-gay. For example, she once tweeted “the ppl we were dancing with just turned and mafe [sic] out with each other #gay #ew.” Another tweet was about how she thought didn’t look good coming to work that day, to which she added the hashtag “#dyke.”
During a sentencing hearing, Knott offered a tearful apology to the victims in the courtroom, saying: “You two absolutely did not deserve what happened to you.”