Indiana woman charged with federal hate crime in bus attack

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — A southern Indiana woman now faces a federal hate crime charge in addition to attempted murder in the stabbing of an Indiana University student of Chinese descent on a public bus.

Billie R. Davis, 56, of Bloomington, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Evansville Thursday on a charge of willfully causing injuries to the victim due to her race and national origin, the Justice Department said. Her lawyer said she’s mentally ill.

Davis, who is white, is accused of repeatedly stabbing the 18-year-old woman with a folding knife on Jan. 11 as the victim, from Carmel, Indiana, waited to get off a bus in downtown Bloomington.

Citing court records, WRTV-TV has reported that Davis told police she stabbed the woman multiple times in the head with a folding knife, because it “would be one less person to blow up our country.”

Asian Americans have increasingly been the target of racially motivated harassment and assaults in recent years, particularly since the coronavirus pandemic began, with many worrying that anti-Asian rhetoric linked to fraught relations between the U.S. and China could lead to more violence.

A affidavit from a detective who reviewed bus surveillance footage says the victim was stabbed about seven times in the top of the head, the Indianapolis Star reported.

“Davis then folds the knife, puts it back in her pocket and returns to her seated position on the bus,” the affidavit said.

Surveillance footage showed no interaction between the two women prior to the attack.

A witness who was riding the bus followed the woman’s attacker and contacted police. Davis was later arrested and charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery, according to court records.

She pleaded not guilty in January to those charges.

Kyle Dugger, an attorney representing Davis, said in a court motion in January that he is seeking an insanity defense on Davis’ behalf and that she “is incapable of assisting in the preparation of her defense because of mental illness.”

Dugger told The Associated Press in an email Friday that with the federal indictment he anticipates the state-level charges will be dismissed and that Davis will be transferred to federal custody.

“Ms. Davis has a long, documented history of severe mental illness,” he added. “She was seeking help managing her condition up to and including the day of the alleged attack.”

Davis was “extremely disorganized” and was “not aware why she was incarcerated” during the interview with police where it’s claimed she confessed her racist motive, Dugger said.

“Davis was still hallucinating in the jail for several days after being arrested,” he said. “People close to Ms. Davis — neighbors, family, friends — do not describe her having any known racist attitudes or history. They don’t recall her expressing racist ideas or engaging in hate speech.”

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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