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Hauff takes the stand in hate-crime trial
News update posted Nov. 9, 2011
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times

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Daniel Hauff, the victim of an alleged anti-gay hate crime, took the stand on Nov. 7 and described how three men kicked and punched him while calling him "faggot" and "stupid faggot" on a northbound Red Line train in January 2010.

But after two days of painstaking accounts and questioning of Hauff and witnesses, the trial failed to wrap up and was continued until the end of the month.

Sean Little, Kevin McAndrew and Benjamin Eder are facing counts of aggravated battery and felony hate crime after a witness snapped photos of the three on the Argyle train platform where Hauff was beaten. The three men pled innocent and are standing trial in Criminal Court.

Hauff alleges that McAndrew, Eder and Little "gay bashed" him after he tried to intervene on behalf of another man who they were bullying near the Red Line Belmont stop. Hauff told the court that the three turned on him, calling him "faggot" and asking if the young man was his boyfriend.

"It was aggressive, and it was loud," Hauff said.

Hauff said that Sean Little then touched his face, causing him to walk backwards and stumble. He said he pushed the emergency button on the train for help, but that the conductor walked away without calling police. Then, he said, the three men began punching and kicking him.

"It felt like forever," Hauff said on the stand. "When I got off the train, I was punched in the face by Eder, and I tried to smear my blood on the face of the defendants."

Hauff claimed that it was only after he told them he had AIDS that they relented.

The three men were arrested at the Argyle stop after the altercation, and Hauff was transported to Swedish Covenant Hospital and released hours later.

Defense attorneys for the three men said that the they were minding their own business when Hauff picked a fight, and that the three acted in self defense.

"There are two sides to every story," said Daniel Coyne, McAndrew's attorney. "Mr. Hauff made contact with Mr. Little, at which point he was struck … . Mr. McAndrew did get smeared with blood at which point he pushed."

Defense attorneys told the court that McAndrew, Eder and Little were talking about football when Hauff decided there was a problem and injected himself into the conversation, refusing to leave the men alone and then pushing them.

Coyne grilled Hauff for close to six hours over the course of two days on his recollections of the night, drawing attention to the parts that were fuzzy. Hauff failed to clearly detail where he had been earlier in the day, how much alcohol he consumed throughout the entire evening and what exactly he later told the press about the incident.

Hauff's lack of commitment to responses appeared to exasperate Judge Dianne Cannon, who several times burst into near shouts at the plaintiff.

"You're going to have to commit to something, sir … . You can't keep changing your testimony," she said loudly, reddening in the face. "Listen to the question. If you don't know, say 'I don't know.'"

In total, prosecutors said, Hauff responded "I don't know" to approximately 150 questions.

Christopher Davin, the witness testifying on behalf of Hauff, recalled a different chain of events than the prosecution laid out in their opening arguments and Hauff later recounted.

According to Davin, the defendants kicked Hauff repeatedly before he pushed the emergency button and the train operator came. Davin said that all five of the men remained in the car after that incident until Argyle when the attack spilled onto the platform.

Hauff testified immediately after Davin that the train operator had been called before he was kicked.

Perhaps further confusing the two testimonies was Davin's assertion that Hauff fell into him, smearing blood on his white hoodie. Hauff told the court that he never fell into Davin and that he was not certain how his blood ended up on Davin's clothing.

Following the two testimonies, the defense compelled the judge to immediately issue "not guilty" verdicts, stating that the discrepancies in the testimonies were too great. The judge denied their request and resumed the trial.

The court heard accounts from the CTA operator, Hauff's ER doctor and the detective put on the case.

The CTA operator claimed that she stopped the train and offered to call the police, fire department or an ambulance for Hauff. She said that he declined to move train cars and later swore at her. She added that the three defendants also declined to move cars.

Hauff previously told the court that he stayed on the train because he thought the operator was calling police on his behalf.

Sitting in support of Hauff was LGBT court watch group, Out for Justice. That group has been following the Hauff trial from the start, they say to support him and send a message that the LGBT community cares about his case.

The second day of trial ended before closing arguments could be made. Those have been rescheduled for Nov. 30.

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