Billie R. Davis, 56, has been charged with a federal hate crime after allegedly stabbing a young passenger on a public bus in Bloomington, Indiana, because she mistook the 18-year-old Indiana University student for “Chinese.”
According to the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana, Davis, 56, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Evansville, Ind., on Thursday. She also faces local charges of attempted murder, aggravated battery, and battery with a deadly weapon.
The indictment alleges that Davis “willfully caused bodily injury to the victim and attempted to do so through the use of a knife, because of the victim’s race and national origin,” the DOJ and U.S. attorney’s office said.
On Jan. 11, the student was about to get off a public bus near the Bloomington campus when another passenger hit her in the head repeatedly with a folding knife. The perpetrator then walked away, leaving the victim with many stab wounds on his head.
According to the Bloomington Police Department, security footage from the bus revealed that the defendant and the victim had no past encounters.
According to an affidavit obtained by NPR, Davis told police that she not only stabbed the victim but also targeted the student because she suspected the kid was “Chinese,” adding that “one less person to blow up our country would be a good thing.”
Davis’ attorney, Kyle Dugger, told NPR in January that Davis has a long history of “severe mental illness” and was seeking help managing her condition on the day of the assault. Dugger has filed an insanity defense for Davis.
On Saturday, he told NPR that he expects the state-level charges to be dismissed and that Davis will be transferred to federal custody.
In late January, Kathleen DeLaney, an attorney who is representing the student’s family, told NPR in a statement: “The family has stated that the student is out of the hospital and recovering, and they have requested privacy to allow for further emotional and physical healing.”
The unprovoked attack also sent shock waves to Asian Americans in the state and across the country, as the community grapples with increased reports of hate crimes against Asians in the U.S. over the past three years.