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New: Berkeley Teen Released from Hospitas

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday November 27, 2013 - 08:20:00 PM

An agender, skirt-wearing 18-year-old Berkeley high school student who was set on fire on an AC Transit bus three weeks ago was released from the hospital today in time for Thanksgiving, his family said. 

Sasha Fleischman, who was named Luke at birth but doesn't identify as either male or female, is "doing really well" but is still wearing bandages on both legs after suffering second- and third-degree burns in the Nov. 4 incident, according to Fleishman's mother, Debbie Fleischman. 

Sasha Fleischman, who prefers to be called "they" rather than he or she, is a senior at Maybeck High School in Berkeley and hopes to return sometime next week, Debbie Fleischman said. Sasha was treated at the burn unit at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco. 

Richard Thomas, a 16-year-old Oakland High School student, is accused of lighting Sasha Fleischman's skirt on fire while the teen was sleeping in the back of an AC Transit bus as it traveled near MacArthur Boulevard and Ardley Avenue in Oakland at about 5:20 p.m. on Nov. 4. 

Thomas is being prosecuted as an adult on charges of aggravated mayhem and felony assault as well as hate crime clauses. 

But his attorney, William DuBois, said at a hearing in Alameda County Superior Court on Tuesday that he believes Thomas should be prosecuted as a juvenile because Thomas is immature and would have a better chance of being rehabilitated in a juvenile facility than in an adult facility. 

A hearing on the matter has been scheduled for Dec. 20. 

Oakland police Officer Anawawn Jones said in a probable cause statement that Thomas told investigators that he set Sasha Fleischman on fire because he's "homophobic" but DuBois said he doesn't think that's the case and he doesn't think Thomas should be charged with a hate crime. 

DuBois said Thomas is "very remorseful" about the incident and didn't intend to seriously harm Sasha Fleischman.