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A 21-year-old Louisiana man has pleaded guilty to the grisly kidnapping of a teen he met through a dating app for gay and bisexual men, and his sworn statement says he planned to kill and dismember gays until he was caught or killed.
Federal prosecutors agreed to drop hate crime and other charges against Chance Seneca of Lafayette when he pleaded guilty Thursday, court documents show.
Seneca was 19 when he handcuffed, choked, stabbed and slit the wrists of 18-year-old Holden White, then called 911 and waited for police outside his father's house. Court papers give only White's initials but his family identified him at the time and called for the hate crime charge that was later added.
Seneca’s statement said he used Snapchat and the Grindr app, which is mainly used by gay and bisexual men, to set up a meeting with White, and tried to murder and dismember him on June 20, 2020. A day earlier, he said, he used the apps to set up a meeting with another gay man but decided not to kill him.
“The actions and intentions of the defendant in this case were shocking,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a news release. “The internet should be accessible and safe for all Americans, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation."
U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays scheduled sentencing for Jan. 25, 2023. The maximum sentence is life and a $250,000 fine, but it could be increased if the judge finds that Seneca chose the victim because of his actual or perceived gender or sexual orientation, according to the news release.
White survived but his wrists, cut to the bone, “required extensive medical care to rehabilitate the damaged and severed tendons” and his left hand has permanent nerve damage, according to the sworn statement.
“It is nothing short of miraculous that the victims who endured the vicious attacks from this defendant survived," said U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown for the Western District of Louisiana.
Seneca also faces state charges of attempted second-degree murder and committing a hate crime. State prosecutors have coordinated with their federal counterparts and a similar agreement is expected “pretty shortly” in state court, Assistant District Attorney Don Knecht told The Advocate.
“I don’t want to let the proverbial cat out of the bag and ruin anything, but everything has been discussed while working with federal authorities and the victim,” he said.
In addition to the federal hate crime charge, Seneca had been charged in federal court with a second kidnapping charge and one each of attempted kidnapping, destroying records to obstruct justice and possessing a machine gun to further a violent crime.
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