Molly Flaherty charged with smashing glass on CeCe McDonald's face
A Minneapolis woman is charged with starting the fight outside the Schooner Tavern last summer that resulted in Chrishaun "CeCe" McDonald, a transgender woman, being charged with second-degree murder.
Courtesy CeCe McDonald. Molly Flaherty hit CeCe McDonald in the face with a glass, starting a melee outside the Schooner Tavern.
Molly Shannon Flaherty "threw or pushed" a glass into McDonald's face outside the bar that night, according to the charges. The glass opened up a gash across McDonald's left cheek that required 11 stitches, and started a melee that ended with Dean Schmitz being stabbed in the heart.
Flaherty was charged with two felonies: second-degree assault with a deadly weapon and third-degree assault causing substantial bodily harm. The Washington County Attorney's Office is handling the case instead of Hennepin to avoid a conflict of interest.
As we reported in our May 9 cover story, "The Edge of Doubt," the paths of Flaherty and McDonald crossed on June 5, 2011, just before midnight. McDonald and a group of friends, including Larry Thomas, were walking to Cub Foods on a late-night grocery run.
Flaherty, Schmitz, and Jenny Thoreson were standing in a group outside the Schooner smoking cigarettes, and called out to McDonald's group. From the cover story:
JAYME HALBRITTER. Supporters for CeCe McDonald protested the murder charges, arguing that her only crime was surviving a brutal attack.
What Schmitz and company called out, exactly, is subject to debate. In later interviews with police, Thoreson would only recall that it was something "derogatory" and "sarcastic."
"They were very feminine guys," she said, "something about their walk."
Flaherty's memory was even less specific, though she gave a similar description to police about the group's fashion, noting that one of them "was wearing booty shorts and a tank top," and that "he looked like he was ready to go to a recital."
Thomas's recollection of what he heard that night was far more detailed:
"Oh you faggots, you nigger lovers, and whoop-de-woo, you ain't nothing but a bunch of nigger babies," Thomas later recalled in a police interview. "So as they said all that, I go over there and talk to [Schmitz].
"I backed into the middle of the street, drop my belt like I am ready to fight. He just walk off. And that's when he started talking this stuff, like, 'Oh, look at the tranny over there, look at that tranny.'"
The back-and-forth escalated, and someone smashed a glass across McDonald's face, opening a gash in her left cheek.
"I'll take all three of you bitches on!" Flaherty screamed, according to Thoreson. "She threw the first punch and I heard glass break. It was on."
For more information, read our May 9 cover story.
Everyone remembers the brawl a little differently, but at some point Schmitz and McDonald separated from the rest of the group. Schmitz approached McDonald with clenched fists, according to witnesses, and seconds later, Schmitz grabbed his stomach.
"You stabbed me!" he accused McDonald, according to charges. "Yes, I did," replied McDonald.
The case became controversial in LGBT communities across the world. McDonald's supporters say she was the victim of a hate crime that night, that she was lucky to survive, and should never have been charged.
She ultimately pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter earlier this month, and she will officially be charged June 4, one day short of a full year since the incident.
"This is a terrible crime that would never have gone beyond two groups yelling at each other had not Ms. Flaherty aggressively smashed a glass in Ms. McDonald's face," said Washington County Attorney Peter Orput.