TERESA WOODARD and Associated Press reports
Posted on March 30, 2012 at 10:10 AM
Friday, Mar 30 at 10:22 AM
RICHLAND HILLS, Texas — A 71-year-old North Texas woman accused of beating her neighbor with a cane is being charged with a hate crime.
Richland Hills police say Wanda Derby repeatedly hit 25-year-old Lloyd Guerrero with her wooden cane and used it to choke him.
"As I lifted up my arm, when I saw her, she just hit me right here," Guerrero said, pointing to his left forearm, which was still slightly swollen and bruised Thursday evening.
Police say she was angry Wednesday night and yelled derogatory terms for a gay man. Authorities say the victim, who is her son's roommate, had bruises on his throat and body.
"She was hitting and screaming and hitting and screaming and hitting and screaming," Guerrero said.
The two live next door to each other in the Ash Park Apartments in the 3200 block of Ash Park in Richland Hills. Guerrero said Derby had been posting off-color comments about him and his family for the last month or so on her Facebook page.
He said she posted that he was homosexual, which he is, but he said he had not been open about it.
"This is completely private," he said. "It's not anything I would ever in a million years post randomly. I'm the same as everyone else."
Derby's own son is about to move in with Guerrero, and police say that is what provoked the Wednesday night attack.
Derby allegedly walked out of her front door, and approached Guerrero with her cane. Police say bruises and scratches on Guererro's body prove Derby tried to choke him. She also allegedly forced her way inside Guerrero's apartment and hit his mother.
Police say she used a slur to describe Guerrero to investigators.
"This is a hate crime due to the statements the arrested person, Mrs. Derby, made to the officers on the scene," explained Richland Hills Detective Tye Bell.
Bell said he did not recall any hate crimes in the city in the recent past.
Derby faces charges of assault and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon enhanced as a hate crime.
"The charges are serious," Bell said. "First-degree felony is as high as you can go."
Guerrero, an aspiring actor staying with his mother as he works on a film, said he agrees with the charges. He believes hate was the motivating factor.
"I don't want anybody to do that and get away with it," Guerrero said.
Derby posted bail and was released from custody late Thursday afternoon.