Updated 1:37 p.m.
A young woman in Alabama was beaten Thanksgiving night by her girlfriend’s brother because she’s gay, according to her family.
NBC affiliate Local 15 reported that Travis Hawkins, Jr., 18, was charged with 2nd degree assault for the beating of Mallory Owens, 23. Owens’ sister Avery Godwin told the media outlet that Hawkins had “never liked Mallory” because his sister Alex is in a relationship with her and called it a hate crime.
Godwin said her sister had to have plates inserted into her cheeks following the alleged beating and her nose was broken. “I don’t know what made him snap,” she said to Local 15.
Pete Burns, an attorney representing Hawkins’ father, said Travis Hawkins, Sr., is “not proud of his son’s conduct,” and that he tried to stop the violence. “His prayers are with the child,” Burns of Burns, Cunningham & Mackey told msnbc.com.
Burns said the son does not live at his father’s house but had been invited there for Thanksgiving dinner.
Photos posted to a Facebook page called “Justice Today—For Mallory” showed a woman’s bloody and swollen face while she lay in what appeared to be a hospital bed.
State laws could make a hate crime charge difficult, Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich told Local 15, explaining that it does not cover LGBT-related crimes.
The DA’s office told msnbc.com it is still looking into the details of the case. It was not yet known who is representing Hawkins, Jr.
Three years ago, the Alabama House of Representatives agreed to add sexual orientation to the state’s current hate crimes law protections, but the state senate let the legislation die.
In 2006, Alabama voted to approve a ban on same-sex marriages by amending the state constitution.