Two men sentenced in violent assault of transgender woman at Minneapolis light rail station

20 July 2023

Two men who admitted to beating a transgender woman last year at a Minneapolis light rail stop, leaving her critically injured, avoided prison time under sentences handed down this week.

Keaten James Morris, 19, of Minneapolis and Kevin Dewayne York, 23, of St. Paul both pleaded guilty in May to felony third-degree assault in the Feb. 27 attack at the Blue Line’s Lake Street Station.

Kevin Dewayne York (Courtesy of the Hennepin County sheriff’s office)

Aggravated first-degree robbery charges against the men were dismissed as part of plea agreements they reached with Hennepin County prosecutors.

Morris was sentenced to a year in the county workhouse on Monday. Judge Peter Cahill then ordered that Morris be furloughed to chemical health treatment, which was recommended in an in-custody substance-use disorder assessment, court records show.

Morris’ sentence includes a stay of imposition, meaning the felony conviction will be reduced to a misdemeanor if he successfully completes three years of probation.

Cahill on Wednesday sentenced York to an 18-month prison term and then stayed its execution for three years, during which time he will be on probation. Cahill sentenced York to the workhouse for 99 days and gave him credit for already serving that amount of time.

The attack followed mounting concerns about public safety within Metro Transit’s system, particularly its light rail trains.

The criminal complaints said officers “had concerns that the assault was due to anti-transgender bias.” However, there was no evidence that was the motivation, Nick Kimball, spokesman for the Hennepin County attorney’s office, said Wednesday.

Keaten James Morris (Courtesy of the Hennepin County sheriff’s office)

Victim sustained severe injuries

Metro Transit police responded about 9:45 a.m. to a report of an assault at the Blue Line’s Lake Street Station, where a 911 caller told a dispatcher that a woman was lying on the ground with “visible brain matter” coming from a head wound, according to the criminal complaints.

When officers arrived, they found the woman bruised and bleeding from several injuries to her head, being loaded into a Hennepin County Medical Center ambulance by paramedics.

Although she was unable to speak in full sentences, the complaint says she told officers, “They hit me.”

Surveillance cameras recorded three suspects striking the woman and pushing her down a flight of stairs, and officers were provided with images of her attackers from the footage.

Police learned that two of the three suspects — later identified as Morris and York — boarded a southbound light rail train and got off at the VA Medical Center Station, where they were soon arrested, according to the complaints.

When officers searched York, they found the woman’s handbag with her identification inside, the complaints said.

The woman, who arrived at HCMC in critical condition, was given a CT scan, which showed she suffered a rib fracture, collapsed lung and internal bleeding in her skull.

Kimball said Wednesday that the county attorney’s office has not received a case against the third suspect for possible charges.

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