WASHINGTON – Thomas Howard Blue Sr., Thomas Howard Blue Jr. and Judson Hartley Talbert pleaded guilty today in federal court in Florence, S.C., to charges relating to the assault of an African-American man and two white men in December 2007, the Justice Department announced.
During the plea hearing, the defendants agreed that the elder Blue forcibly escorted Dahndra A. Moore out of an establishment known as the "Stop and Shop" after Moore had entered the store to use the restroom. Once outside, the elder Blue forced Moore to the ground and his son threatened Moore with a chainsaw while a small crowd watched. As Moore was being attacked by father and son, Talbert stole Moore’s car and drove it to a site along South Carolina’s Great Pee Dee River known as "Blue’s Landing." After realizing that Moore was attempting to call the police, Blue pursued Moore our of the Stop and Shop store parking lot to a nearby road, where Moore escaped by seeking refuge in the home of a local family.
The three defendants acknowledged that they acted because Moore was African-American and because he was attempting to use the services of the Stop and Shop.
The defendants also agreed that the elder Blue then retrieved a pistol and attacked a white man, Jackson M. Hayes, whom he believed to be aiding Moore. The elder Blue stuck the pistol against Hayes’ face and threatened to kill him when he denied knowing anything about Moore. When the third victim arrived at the Stop and Shop to retrieve Moore’s car, the elder Blue threatened to kill him with his pistol. Talbert and Blue Sr. also burnt Moore’s car in an attempt to cover up their crimes.
"Our nation has come a long way in our battle against bigotry, but this case is a reminder that there are still those individuals who wish to divide our communities by hate," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. "There was no subtlety in these disturbing acts of violence. Prosecuting hate crimes such as these is a top priority for the Civil Rights Division."
"The barbaric conduct of these three defendants against a man solely because of his skin color is shocking. Our office along with our law enforcement partners will fully prosecute those who choose to violate federal hate crime laws," said W. Walter Wilkins, United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina.
The three men each pleaded guilty to conspiring to deprive, and actually depriving, Moore of his right to engage in a federally protected activity, and conspiring to carjack and actually carjacking Moore’s automobile. The elder Blue, 49, also pleaded guilty to depriving two other victims of their right to engage in federally protected activity as well as using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence against of those victims. As part of their pleas, the elder Blue agreed to a 13 year prison sentence, Talbert, 35, agreed to serve 9 years in prison and the younger Blue, 28, agreed to a three year sentence for his role.
The case was investigated by FBI Special Agent Steven Stokes with assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Investigator Shawn Feldner of the Marlboro County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Bradley Parham and U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Michael J. Frank are prosecuting this case.