OAKLAND (KCBS)— Luke “Sasha” Fleischman, the 18-year-old victim who was set on fire aboard an AC Transit bus earlier this month, was released from the hospital Wednesday just in time for Thanksgiving.
Fleischman had been at the St. Francis Medical Center’s burn unit in San Francisco receiving skin grafts for second and third-degree burns. The agender teen went through the discharge process and is now back at the family’s Glenview neighborhood home in Oakland.
Sasha, who doesn’t identify as either male or female, was asleep while riding the bus home from school on November 4th. That’s when a 16-year-old suspect, Richard Thomas, set Fleischman’s skirt on fire.
There were multiple witnesses to the incident and Thomas was swiftly charged by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley with aggravated mayhem and felony assault resulting in serious bodily injury in an adult court.
Prosecutors added a hate-crime enhancement because, according to the probable cause declaration in court, Thomas told the interviewing office he did it because he was homophobic.
Just this week, Thomas’ defense attorney, William Du Bois, filed a motion in court to have the boy prosecuted in juvenile court instead of as an adult. The attorney said his client claimed the incident was only meant as a “prank” and that Thomas is very “remorseful”.
Thomas’ plea entry was delayed this week and a judge instead set a December 20th hearing on Du Bois’ motion to have the case sent to juvenile court.
Meanwhile, Sasha’s parents agree that Thomas should be tried in juvenile court and are hoping for a quiet Thanksgiving holiday. Sasha’s dad said the 18-year-old may even be well enough to go back to Berkeley’s Maybeck High School as early as Monday.
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