Billy Ray Johnson was brought to a party in 2003 to serve as the night's "entertainment." Johnson was 42, but had a childlike naiveté and was easy to manipulate. After partygoers had their fill laughing at and taunting him, one of them knocked him unconscious.
Instead of taking Johnson to a hospital, the partygoers drank beer and debated what to do with him. After an hour or so, they put him in the back of a pickup truck - they didn't want his blood to stain the cloth seats of a car - and deposited his body along the side of a country road. He suffered serious brain injuries from which he'll never fully recover. Johnson, who had no criminal background or history of trouble, lived with his mother and brother before the assault. Now he lives in a Texas nursing home.
The SPLC filed suit against the four men responsible after they received only 30- and 60-day jail sentences. The suit sought damages to help Johnson's family pay for the care and treatment he will need for the rest of his life. Two of four defendants settled before trial. In April 2007, a civil jury awarded $9 million to Johnson.