Hate crime charge added in attempted murder of Louisiana man

Chance Seneca (Credit: Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office)

A hate crime charge has been added to attempted murder in the case of a gay Louisiana teenager who was attacked by another teen he met on a dating app last year.

Police initially said the evidence did not support a hate crime in the attack on Holden White, who spent days in a coma and nearly a month in the hospital and still does not have full use of both hands. White said the other teen wrapped a cord around his neck so tightly he lost consciousness and that he woke up in a bathtub where the assailant repeatedly slashed his wrists.

"I was saying my final words to myself, which were just, ‘Stay calm,’" White told KLFY-TV.

The Lafayette Parish District Attorney's Office added the hate crime charge to the case against Chance Seneca on Jan. 20. Seneca earlier pleaded not guilty to a charge of attempted second-degree murder in last June's attack, and he remains jailed on a $250,000 bond. His next pretrial hearing is March 3.

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Prosecutor Donald Knecht declined to comment, citing the pending case. Seneca's attorney, J. Clay LeJeune, said he had not been told why the hate crime charge was added "at this late date," but his client will also plead not guilty to it.

White is convinced the attack was premeditated and that he was targeted because he's gay. He said they met on Grindr, a dating app for gay, bisexual and transgender men. White, of Lafayette, was 18 at the time, and Seneca was 19.

After talking for a month, they decided to meet in person. White said Seneca picked him up and took him to a relative's home to play video games. They talked awkwardly, he recalled. White said his next memory is of being pulled backward by a cord, choked so hard that blood vessels ruptured all over his face. He said he woke up in a bathtub as Seneca sliced his wrists.

"The water is running, and it’s cold," he told The Acadiana Advocate.

Lafayette police said Seneca was at the scene when authorities responded. White was found with deep cuts to both wrists, multiple stab wounds and blunt force trauma to the back of his head, the Advocate said.

But police did not initially recommend a hate crime charge, even though White's family accused Seneca of targeting him because he's gay. Lafayette Police Sgt. Wayne Griffin said right after the attack that preliminary evidence indicated it was not a hate crime and that Seneca and White had gotten into an argument.

White said the attack has left him with diminished function in his left hand, but he is determined to move on.

"I’m a survivor," he told The Advocate.