- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A prosecutor says he’ll appeal a judge’s ruling that violence or violent threats based solely on a victim’s sexual orientation aren’t considered a hate crime under West Virginia law.

Cabell County Prosecutor Sean “Corky” Hammers told the AP he’ll appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Judge Paul Farrell’s decision Friday allows hate crime charges to be dropped against ex-Marshall University football player Steward Butler. He’s accused of assaulting two gay men after seeing them kiss on a city street in April 2015.

Farrell ruled that state lawmakers haven’t included sexual orientation protections in state law.

Butler pleaded not guilty to two counts of felony civil rights violations and two counts of misdemeanor battery.

The state Supreme Court previously declined to hear Farrell’s question whether protections extend to sexual orientation.

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