Knott strikes out in bid for new sentence in beating of Philly gay couple

Kathryn Knott remains in prison after a judge denied her request for a shorter sentence. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Kathryn Knott remains in prison after a judge denied her request for a shorter sentence. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A Philadelphia judge is refusing to let Kathryn Knott out of jail early for her involvement in a group attack on a gay couple in Center City.

Knott hired a new defense attorney, Bill Brennan, who asked the court on Monday that the Bucks County woman be released before the end of her five- to 10-month sentence.

Brennan told Judge Roxanne Covington that Knott is showing exemplary behavior at the Riverside Correctional facility. She’s working, including cleaning showers and toilets and participating in anger management classes.

Assistant District Attorney Allison Ruth wasn’t impressed.

“So what?” Ruth told Covington. “You don’t get credit for doing what you’re supposed to do.”

In addition, Brennan floated the proposal that Knott make a public service announcement about tolerance as a way to demonstrate that she’s a changed person.

“Seriously?” Ruth replied. “It would be comical if it wasn’t so offensive.”

Brennan stressed how Knott’s co-defendants, Kevin Harrigan and Philip Williams, avoided jail time by accepting a plea deal offered by prosecutors. Is it really fair, then, he asked, that Knott received a prison sentence when Williams plead guilty to the more serious charge of aggravated assault?

In December, a jury dropped the aggravated assault count but convicted Knott of simple assault, reckless endangerment and conspiracy, which are all misdemeanors.

Courts encourage plea bargains, Judge Covington said, and by rejecting one, a defendant is risking a harsher punishment. Fighting the charges was Knott’s choice, so arguing that the outcome is not fair cannot apply to this case, she said.

Covington further added that Knott’s attitude on the stand during her trial illustrated that she had “a failure to take personal responsibility” for behavior. Knott showed the jury that she didn’t comprehend the seriousness of her using hateful language, nor did she grasp the seriousness of the offenses.

The attack, and the uproar it unleashed, didn’t impact just a segment of the city, Covington said.

“This crime affects our community as a whole,” Covington said. “It affects all of us.”

Knott has been in jail for more than a month for participating in a group attack in Center City in 2014 that shattered one man’s jaw and left another man bruised up.

Prosecutorss said she may qualify for parole halfway through her sentence, but many undetermined factors would play into when she might be released.

The prosecutor Ruth called returning to the courtroom to re-argue about Knott’s punishment a “ridiculous and offensive” exercise.

“Hate is hate,” she said. “Enough is enough and the defendant’s sentence should remain.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.