A Georgia man and his partner are reportedly still recovering from severe burns due to a hate crime.
Marquez Tolbert and his partner, Anthony Gooden, both 21 years old, suffered second- and third-degree burns after the boyfriend of Gooden’s mother, Martin Blackwell, threw scalding water on top of them as they slept, WSB-TV News reports. The incident occurred in February.
"Martin pulled me up and said, 'Get out of my house with all that gay,'" Tolbert said. "I couldn't stop screaming.”
After the incident, Blackwell, 48, kicked the couple out of the apartment, even though the residence belonged to Gooden and his mother. The couple was forced to go door to door and ask neighbors for help.
"Like, where was your head at?” Tolbert said. “Why would you do this?"
Tolbert spent 10 days at Grady Memorial Hospital undergoing skin graft surgery. Skin was taken from his thighs in order to replace the scar tissue on his back.
"I can barely think straight because the burning, the stinging is everywhere,” Tolbert said.
Gooden was placed in an induced coma in intensive care and was released from the hospital on March 11, about a month after the incident.
"The pain doesn't let you sleep,” Tolbert said. “It's just, like, it's excruciating, 24 hours a day, and it doesn't go anywhere. It doesn't dial down, anything. It's just there."
Blackwell was charged with two counts of aggravated battery and remains in the Fulton County Jail. According to police reports, Blackwell said the couple’s relationship disgusted him.
"They'll be all right,” Blackwell said. “It was just a little hot water on them."
An LGBTQ liaison with the Atlanta Police Department assisted in the case to ensure that Blackwell did not make bond, as Blackwell's action is believed to be a hate crime.
"Why else would you pour boiling hot water on somebody?" Tolbert asked.
A friend of Tolbert’s family, Vickie Gray, established a GoFundMe page for the couple to help with medical and everyday expenses.
“Through it all, [Tolbert] has remained strong and not disheartened by what has happened to him,” Gray wrote on the page. "I am so impressed by his character.”
As of March 17, the page has raised over $13,000 of its $30,000 goal.
An upcoming hearing will address whether Blackwell will be charged with a federal hate crime, WSB-TV notes.