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Hate crime ruled out in stabbing

Suzanne-Deanna Grover faces arraignment today on a felony assault charge for stabbing Lindsay C. Harmon in her right eye during a parking lot altercation outside Roxie's nightclub downtown early on Jan. 1.

However, Grover was not charged with a hate crime because a grand jury found "there was not reasonable cause to believe" the victim's sexual orientation was a factor in the attack, District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said after Grover was indicted Thursday.

Grover, 21, a former Riverside resident, has been jailed since Jan. 20 when she flew back here from her new home in Jacksonville, Fla., to testify in an unrelated murder trial and was arrested.

She faces arraignment today before State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller for allegedly inflicting the injury that has cost Harmon, 29, the sight in her right eye. If convicted, Grover, who has a 4-year-old son, faces a possible prison term of up to seven years.

Grover's attorney, Debra K. Bender, could not be reached to comment. Grover is being held on $75,000 bail.

During a court hearing last month, Harmon testified that she tried to break up an altercation that had developed between her two friends and Grover and her friends, and that Grover repeatedly used a sexual slur before stabbing her.

Thursday, Sedita said the initial effort to seek a hate crime indictment was "based on the reports of the victim and other witnesses." But he said the grand jury, after hearing testimony from what he called "every known and available eyewitness," declined to accuse the defendant of a hate crime.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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