The two teens who terrorized a Black classmate on Halloween 2021 in Woodsboro have pleaded guilty and will spend most of the next two years on probation. The incident, which we wrote about in December 2021, horrified many locals in the tiny South Texas town of 1,400 forty miles north of Corpus Christi that proclaims itself, on a large stone sign in the town square, “The Friendly City.” As one elderly resident told me when I visited that fall, “It’s a hate crime.”
The video of the incident was horrifying. You can see the two teens in their Ku Klux Klan–like hoods—urged on by a third teen shooting the video—taunting the victim and then finally using a stun gun on him. The teens knew the victim well—the three boys all played on the high school football team, and all four attended tiny Woodsboro High School (enrollment 131 at the time).
Matthew Manning, a Corpus Christi lawyer who would eventually work for the victim, was worried that nothing consequential would be done. He held a press conference on November 10, 2021, and said, “This can’t be analyzed as kids being kids. This must be seen as a purposeful crime with the intent to terrorize a Black person.”
Not long afterward, Rance Bolcik and Noel Garcia Jr., both seventeen, were indicted for engaging in organized criminal activity and tampering with evidence, with a hate crime enhancement because the teens “intentionally selected” their victim “primarily because of bias or prejudice against African Americans,” according to the indictment. In January 2023 they were still set for trial, but it was postponed when their attorney got ill.
Finally, the whole thing came to an end when, last month, Garcia pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault with the hate crime enhancement—and spent 21 days in the Refugio County Jail. Last week Bolcik pleaded guilty to criminal mischief charges. Both face two years of probation.
Manning was happy—and so was his client, who is now studying to be a barber in South Texas. “The fact that somebody pleaded to a hate crime enhancement is major,” Manning said. “What usually happens in emotionally charged cases like this is that there’s no justice, there’s no sense of duty and gravitas. But there was here.
“I really hope what comes out of it is that other kids, whether they be marginalized or on the fringes of society, feel empowered to come forward and stand up for themselves when something happens. That’s the most important thing about this, especially in a small, insular community where everybody knows everybody and there are these long-standing hierarchies of power and concerns about standing up for yourself. That’s what is so powerful about this guy. He stood up for himself. And that’s important.”
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