Was the Burning Death of a Black Man in Kansas a Hate Crime?

Authorities are investigating whether the maiming of Sterling Law was racially motivated.

Posted: 10/19/2011 02:06 PM EDT
Filed Under hate crime, racism

Sterling Law

After a Black Kansas man was burned by two neighbors, a federal court is trying to determine whether the crime was racially motivated and worthy of triggering federal penalties.


The incident occurred on Oct. 7 when two men barged into the home of Sterling Law, 54, with a pit bull and shouting racial slurs. The men then doused Law in rubbing alcohol set him on fire with a cigarette lighter.


So far, Isaac Wilson, 23, who is white has been charged with aggravated battery and aggravated burglary for the crime. Police have yet to identify the second suspect. Law is currently recovering from second-degree burns on his hands, stomach and upper legs.


According to Law's brother, Law knew the attackers, but he is unsure if is his brother, who lives alone and has a diminished mental capacity, had been threatened in the past. A local news outlet reports that Law's neighbors said his cat was skinned once and hung from a tree outside his home.

(Photo: Law Enforcement)