Three men with white-supremacist tattoos who punched and kicked a black man at a Houston bus stop last summer in an attack that included racial slurs have been convicted in the first Texas case brought under a relatively new federal hate crime law, the AP reports:
FBI spokeswoman Shauna Dunlap said 26-year-old Charles Cannon, 40-year-old Michael McLaughlin and 32-year-old Brian Kerstetter were found guilty by a jury Monday after a two-day trial.
She said charges were dismissed against 49-year-old Joseph Staggs, who testified against the others.
All three men face up to 10 years in prison under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, passed in 2009.
It sounds like the Department of Justice is getting serious about this type of case. "Today's convictions under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act show that hate crimes are far too common in this country," said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division in a press release yesterday. He added, "The department will continue to use every available tool to identify and prosecute hate crimes whenever and wherever they occur."
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