Suspect in trans beating claims gay panic defense

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One of the two men charged with attacking two transgender women on a MARTA train says he was fending off an aggressive sexual advance from the women.

Luther L. Thomas tells WSB on Monday that although he regrets throwing the first punch that turned a verbal confrontation into a brawl, he was repeatedly trying to fend off an unwanted sexual come-on from the two transgender women.

"When you are a gay guy and you come on to a straight guy and I tell you that I don't go that way, then just let it be," Thomas says in the video above.

Thomas also says that he's not anti-gay.

MARTA police arrested Thomas on Thursday and charged him with disorderly conduct. A day later, police arrested Frederick L. Missick and also charged him with disorderly conduct. Police say Thomas struck and then fought with Janell Crosby while Missick fought with Tyra Woods. Missick also allegedly stripped off Woods' clothes as they fought on the floor of the train. Thomas says neither he nor Missick pulled off Woods' skirt.

“The camera didn't show that, but he pulled off his skirt and that's when he was totally naked,” Thomas tells WSB. “We did not strip him.”

Crosby said the two men, and others with them, followed them into the Five Points MARTA Station as they snapped photos of the two women and harassed them. Once they boarded the train, Crosby repeatedly told the men to stop before Thomas struck her.

The brawl on May 20 gained widespread media attention after a recording of it was posed to Fly Vidz. Mayor Kasim Reed condemned the incident as a hate crime. MARTA General Manager Keith Parker also spoke out against the attack.

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