MORRISANIA — A Bronx man charged with a hate crime after he allegedly sliced a man's face outside a West Third Street McDonald's last week in an epithet-laced attack denied that he is anti-gay, saying it was an act of self-defense.
Keith Patron, 44, was arraigned on charges of assault as a hate crime in Manhattan Criminal Court early Wednesday morning, after prosecutors said he yelled homophobic slurs at Jamar McClod, 24, and his transgender girlfriend at the fast food chain on the evening of Sept. 19, then slashed McClod in the face, neck, back and arm, sources said.
"I'm not a hater," Patron said, covering his face with his hands and sobbing as a judge read the accusations against him, "I love everybody."
The 350-pound Patron, whose lawyer said he had never been arrested before, told his sister that the fight began outside the troubled 136 W. 3rd St. McDonald's when the man he later slashed kneed him in the groin, the sister said said.
Patron told his sister he acted out of self defense, not anti-LGBT bias.
"Because it's a heterosexual against a transgender, now it's a hate crime," Patron's sister, who did not give her name, told DNAinfo.com New York on the condition that her name be withheld.
"He's never expressed any hatred to me or anyone in my family towards another gender," she added.
"Someone kneed him and hurt him and he was trying to defend himself," she said her brother told her. "The girlfriend was egging on the boyfriend to defend her."
Patron's sister said he's been homeless for eight years and has grappled with mental illness.
But prosecutors, police and slashing victim Jamar McClod's girlfriend, Jalisa Griffin, told DNAinfo New York a different story about the attack.
Patron allegedly repeated "You f---ing f----ts" to the couple, according to the criminal complaint.
Griffin, 22, said the couple was with friends and "minding their own business" when they stopped at the McDonald's to use the bathroom.
"We were talking about the gay life and Patron said [to me], 'Sir, the men's room is over there,'" remembered Griffin. When she exited the restroom, McClod and Patron were "going back and forth," Griffin said.
"Jamar said 'Let's go,' and Patron said, 'Let me get my sandwich and then let's go outside,'" Griffin said.
Patron and McClod took their dispute outside, where the heavy-set Patron pinned McClod down, Griffin said. McClod fought back by kicking Patron in the knee and groin, she said.
Griffin wanted to join in the fight too, but McClod — who she said was released from prison in December for armed robbery — wouldn't let her, Griffin said.
"Jamar kicked him in the groin. [Patron] said, 'You think you did something?' And that's when he picked up the straight razor," Griffin said.
Griffin said McClod will recover from the vicious attack, but she wants justice for her boyfriend.
"He should go to prison for this because it's a hate crime," Griffin said. "We should have the right to be whoever we want."
Patron's sister, 42, said she first heard that her brother was a wanted man on Sunday.
"On our way home from church, a friend called us and said, 'Your brother's in the news,'" she said.
When she searched for information about the incident online, she found police surveillance photos of her brother. After countless phone calls, Patron's sister said she drove her brother to the 42nd Precinct station house Monday.
"While we were escorting him [to the precinct], he said it's not true, he didn't use any sort of weapon," she said.
Still, Patron's sister apologized on her brother's behalf for the victim's injuries.
"I wish this never happened because a person is scarred and a family is scarred," she said.
Patron's sister, who is planning her wedding, said that when she left Patron at the police station, he expressed sadness that he might not get out in time for the ceremony.
"I guess I'm going to miss your wedding," Patron said.
"I guess you are," she replied.
At his arraignment Wednesday, Judge Anthony Ferrara set Patron's bail at $50,000 cash or bond.
He is scheduled to be back in court on Friday, Sept. 28.
With reporting by Jefferson Siegel