(Photos, from left, Charles Cannon, 26, Brian Kerstetter, 32, and Michael McLaughlin, 41; Law Enforcement)
Three men were found guilty of a hate crime on Monday relating to the racially motivated assault of a 29-year-old African-American man from Houston, according to a press statement from the Department of Justice.
A federal jury convicted Charles Cannon, 26, Michael McLaughlin, 41, and Brian Kerstetter, 32, of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was enacted in October 2009. All three defendants, who have tattoos known to reflect an affiliation with white supremacist groups, approached the victim on Aug. 13, 2011, while he waited at a bus stop in downtown Houston.
According to the Justice Department's statement:
“At least one defendant referred to the victim using a racial slur, and the defendants then surrounded and attacked the victim by punching and kicking his face, head and body. The defendants were arrested at the scene after a passerby called 911.”
Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division, said in the statement, “Hate crimes are far too common in this country. The department will continue to use every available tool to identify and prosecute hate crimes whenever and wherever they occur.”
The defendants will be sentenced July 16 and face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
News of the hate crime convictions arrive on the heels of two men accused of a shooting rampage in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that left three Black men dead and two others wounded on April 6, and the deadly shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, in February.
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