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Native men charged with hate crime in New Mexico

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  • Native men charged with hate crime in New Mexico

    Men face hate crime charges: First local charges involving sexual orientation
    By James Monteleone The Daily Times
    Article Launched: 12/18/2007 12:00:00 AM MST

    FARMINGTON — Criminal charges claiming three men attacked another while calling him "faggot" will now be prosecuted as a hate crime — the first hate charges involving sexual orientation filed in San Juan County.
    The District Attorney's Office recently filed notices in the cases against Scott Thompson, 21, Jerry Paul, 40, and Craig Yazzie, 37, stating it will seek the hate crime sentencing enhancement for charges initially filed in October.

    The enhancement adds one additional year of prison time for each felony charge a jury finds was motivated by hate, although a judge can waive that sentencing.

    "It was a gay-bashing kind of deal — that's the way it reads to me," Deputy District Attorney Brent Capshaw said. "I've got all three of them making those comments to the police. It sure sounds like a hate crime."

    The incident

    Sept. 22, Matthew Shetima reported to Farmington Police he was walking through an alley near the Journey Inn on Glade Lane and was called over to talk to several men, who started hitting him while yelling derogatory statements.
    When he fell, the men began to kick him saying, "You want to die, faggot?" the police report states. Shetima was then pulled into the men's hotel room, where they continued to punch and kick him before he escaped.

    Farmington Police responding to the battery complaint were taken to the room the victim was pulled into, according to the report. There officers found Paul and Yazzie in the room, and a bottle of vodka Shetima had told police the men stole from him.

    Thompson was picked up by police at San Juan Regional Medical Center, where he reported a "gay guy" started hitting him and he only fought back to defend himself.

    Shetima later identified Paul, Yazzie and Thompson to police.

    Paul, of Shiprock, and Yazzie, of Dennehotso Ariz., were charged with kidnapping and felony aggravated battery, and waived preliminary hearings. If convicted of the charges as a hate crime, they could each face 14 years in prison.

    Thompson, of Aztec, had charges reduced after a preliminary hearing held in Farmington Magistrate Court.

    Thompson is now charged with kidnapping and misdemeanor aggravated battery, which could mean up to 11 years in prison time if convicted as a hate crime.

    Not a hate crime, defendants say

    Attorneys representing the men each claim the hate crime enhancement is unfounded because the men were not out searching for a homosexual to attack, and that the charge is being used by the District Attorney's Office to sensationalize the case.

    "Here you don't have this active aggression of young men looking to beat up a homosexual," said Cosme Ripol, representing Thompson. "You have a homosexual continually advertising his homosexuality, and he's coming around these guys and wanting to cry and share his pain and anguish over a failed relationship, over booze."

    That scenario doesn't meet the standard the New Mexico Legislature intended when it passed the hate crimes statute, Ripol said.

    Yazzie's attorney Overzenia Ojuri agreed, and said this incident was only circumstantial.

    "A couple people get drunk at the bar and then they start calling each other names," she said.

    Jack Fortner, representing Paul, was unavailable for comment.

    Plea bargains on the table

    Paul and Yazzie were offered reduced charges to strengthen the case against Thompson with their testimony, Capshaw said.

    Because those offers were made before the hate crime enhancement was filed, if either takes the initial plea offer, he will not face the hate crime sentencing.

    "A deal's a deal — I wont yank a deal," Capshaw said.

    Ojuri said she was unsure if Yazzie would accept that offer yet.

    The District Attorney's Office believes Thompson started the fight, and hasn't offered him a plea bargain.

    "I think that they're increasing the stakes in this matter so that they gain a negotiation advantage," Ripol said of the hate crime filing. "I would rather go to trial and go down fighting than compromise what I think is basically an unethical maneuver."

    The law

    The New Mexico Hate Crimes Act passed in 2003 allows any crime motivated by the hate of another's real or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, age or disability to receive a tougher sentence than it would otherwise.

    New Mexico is one of 32 states that protects sexual orientation in its hate crime legislation.

    While the hate crime sentencing enhancement doesn't add heavy prison time, it reduces the chance that a jail sentence will be suspended and reduced to probation.

    "If a jury found one guilty of that, a judge would feel a little more pressure to put them in jail," Capshaw said

    Hate crimes in San Juan County

    According to data collected by the FBI for 2006, nine of the 20 hate crime cases filed in New Mexico occurred in San Juan County. Not one of those crimes were based on sexual orientation: Five were rooted in race, three on national origin and one based on religious beliefs.

    Elsewhere in the state, five hate crimes were reported that targeted homosexuals in 2006, the most current data available.

    Nationally, crimes motivated by a hate of homosexuals comprised more than 15 percent of all hate crimes filed last year.
    Don't ever stop dancing

  • #2
    So it all started because "he" was crying around and wanted to talk to someone. And alcohol was involved. Im confussed.

    thats what u get 4 breaking my heart...


    • #3
      2 idiots stayed AT THE SCENE OF THEIR CRIME!!!!
      There are 2 types of people in the world...
      Really stupid people who think they are smart
      Really smart people who think they are smart.


      • #4
        They want to claim hate crime because of the choice of names they called the guy. Sounds to me if they wanted to hurt him because he was gay, they could and would have done a lot worse to him.. as many do in hate crimes.
        Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic


        • #5
          Originally posted by billyjoejimbob View Post
          2 idiots stayed AT THE SCENE OF THEIR CRIME!!!!
          Why did they want to leave...they had already paid for the room.

          Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?

          "When I was young man I did some dumb things and the elders would talk to me. Sometimes I listened. Time went by and as I looked around...I was the elder".

          Mr. Rossie Freeman


          • #6

            i hope these two homophobes go to jail and meet bubba!


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