A Kansas City man pleaded guilty in federal court today to committing a hate crime by shooting a local teenager eight times in an attempted murder that was motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation.
Malachi Robinson, 26, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes to one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Robinson, who has been in federal custody since he was indicted by a federal grand jury on Aug. 10, 2021, will remain in federal detention until his sentencing hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.
By pleading guilty today, Robinson admitted that he shot the victim, identified in court records as “M.S.,” approximately eight times with a Taurus 9mm pistol in an attempt to kill him because of his sexual orientation, causing life-threatening injuries.
“This defendant is being held accountable for violently attempting to end the life of someone because of his sexual orientation,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This attempted murder is a reminder that hate crimes against the LGBTQI+ community are real and must be confronted. Violent acts targeting people based on their sexual orientation are heinous crimes that have no place in our country. The Justice Department will continue to use our civil rights laws to pursue justice for survivors and others impacted by bias motivated crimes.”
“Violence against others, motivated by hatred of their sexual orientation, is unacceptable,” said U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore of the Western District of Missouri. “Such callous disregard for the life of a teenage victim, gravely wounded in a failed murder attempt, must be challenged by a commitment to protect the civil rights of all our citizens. When those rights are threatened, the Justice Department will act to hold the violators accountable.”
“Hate crimes—and the violence we saw in this case—are especially cruel because victims are attacked because of who they are,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “The FBI treats hate crimes as the highest priority of our civil rights program because everyone deserves to feel safe to express who they are, without fear of violence from others. We are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to bring justice to all communities affected by hate.”
According to today’s plea agreement, after a chance meeting at the Kansas City Public Library on May 29, 2019, Robinson and M.S. talked briefly over Facebook Messenger before leaving the library. Robinson then walked with M.S. in the Swope Park area under the guise of looking for a place to engage in a sex act. Around the same time, Robinson wrote separately to his girlfriend that he “might shoot this boy” because of his sexual orientation. When Robinson and M.S. ultimately entered a wooded area nearby, Robinson pulled out his pistol and fired repeatedly at M.S.
Robinson fled through the woods toward his apartment building, and continued to engage in attempts to avoid detection or arrest. Later that day, and in the days that followed, Robinson told others that he shot M.S. because of his sexual orientation.
Under federal statutes, Robinson is subject to a sentence of up to life in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.