Two U.S. Marines accused of knocking a gay Savannah man unconscious will face only misdemeanor charges in the attack after the Justice Department declined to prosecute them for hate crimes, authorities said Wednesday.
Savannah-Chatham County police arrested the Marines on June 12 after finding 27-year-old Kieran Daly unconscious on a downtown sidewalk. Witnesses said the Marines got upset because they thought Daly winked at them and attacked him as he tried to walk away.
The FBI launched a preliminary investigation into whether the attack warranted charges as a federal hate crime. Stephen Emmett, spokesman for the FBI in Atlanta, said Wednesday the Justice Department opted against pursuing hate-crime charges after reviewing the case.
"The matter now rests with local authorities," Emmett said.
The Marines accused of attacking Daly - Cpl. Keil Joseph Cronauer, 22, and Lance Cpl. Christopher Charles Stanzel, 23, - have been charged with misdemeanor battery in state court. A judge is scheduled to hear the case Sept. 9.