COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The prosecution of a Columbus accused in two brutal attacks — one that left his Muscogee County Jail cellmate dead and the other that left an auto parts store employee with life-altering injuries — is working its way through the courts.
Jayvon Hatchett, 22, has already been convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for the brutal August 2020 stabbing of AutoZone employee Michael Hunt. Now, he is facing life in prison if convicted in the September 2020 jailhouse beating death of Eddie Nelson Jr.
Hatchett admitted to Columbus police during an interrogation following the AutoZone arrest that he was looking to kill a white man when he walked into the Hamilton Road auto parts store that was near his girlfriend’s residence. Hatchett told Columbus Police he had just watched a police brutality video out of Wisconsin. He went down the street into the auto parts store and stabbed Hunt.
Hatchett is black and Hunt is white.
But it didn’t stop there. Less than two weeks later Hatchett allegedly beat to death his Muscogee County Jail cellmate Eddie Nelson Jr. Nelson was white.
Hatchett is facing murder charges, but not a Georgia Hate Crimes charge.
Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit DA Stacey Jackson says the reason that Hatchett is not facing a hate crimes charge can be found in the Georgia Hate crimes law.
“Georgia in a general sense doesn’t have a hate crimes statute,” Jackson said. “Now, under specific circumstances, there was a bill that was passed in 2020 where there are some enhancements to certain misdemeanor offenses, six to 12 months, And, also, certain felony offenses where there could be an enhancement up to two years that could be tacked on some felony offense as far as sentencing as far as aggravating circumstances.”
The Georgia law, as Jackson pointed out, allows for additional punishment for crimes motivated by a victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, or disability.
Hatchett’s statement to police, which was presented as evidence last week in the AutoZone Case seems to indicate that the assault on Hunt was motivated by race.
Superior Court Judge John Martin presided over the AutoZone assault case.
“You perpetrated the worst hate crime in my recent memory,” Martin told Hatchett at sentencing. “I don’t know that anyone hears a person say that they’re going to premeditatedly go out and kill a person of another race. That’s the absolute definition of a hate crime.”
Both the aggravated assault charge in the AutoZone attack of Hunt and the murder charge in the jail beating death of Nelson carry substantial prison sentences. Jackson would not say that was the reason the hate crimes were not charged, but he did add this: “Georgia does not have a garden-variety hate crimes statute like the federal government has.”