WASHINGTON – Frankie Maybee, 20, and Sean Popejoy, 19, both of Green Forest, Ark., were sentenced for their roles in committing federal hate crimes, announced the Justice Department. These are the first defendants to be sentenced under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was enacted in October 2009.
Maybee was sentenced today to 135 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. Popejoy, who testified against Maybee, was sentenced yesterday to 48 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine. Maybee and Popejoy were also sentenced to pay $5,440 in restitution to the victims, jointly and severally.
Maybee was convicted on May 19, 2011, by a federal jury of five counts of committing a federal hate crime and one count of conspiring to commit a federal hate crime. Popejoy pleaded guilty on May 16, 2011, to one count of committing a federal hate crime and one count of conspiring to commit a federal hate crime.
Evidence presented at trial established that in the early morning hours of June 20, 2010, Maybee and Popejoy targeted five Hispanic men who had pulled into a gas station parking lot. Though Maybee and Popejoy did not know the men and the five did not do or say anything to provoke them, Maybee and Popejoy yelled racial epithets at the men and told them to “go back to Mexico.” When the victims drove away, the co-conspirators pursued them in Maybee’s truck. When Maybee and Popejoy caught up to the victims, Popejoy leaned outside of the front passenger window and waived a tire wrench at the victims, and continued to threaten and hurl racial epithets at the victims. Maybee, driving his truck, rammed into the victims’ car repeatedly, causing the victims’ car to cross the opposite lane of traffic, go off the road, crash into a tree and ignite. The victims were badly injured and one of the victims sustained life-threatening injuries.
“The facts of this case shock the conscience. Five men were almost killed for no reason other than the fact that they are Hispanic. The Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act allowed us to bring these men to justice in a way that we could not have done just a few years ago,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “These sentences send a clear message that the Justice Department will aggressively prosecute those who perpetrate violent acts of hate.”
“Acts of violence that occur simply because of how someone looks are horrific,” said Conner Eldridge, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas. “The five victims in this case were targeted because they are Hispanic. That is reprehensible. We thank the jury – 12 individuals from communities across Northern Arkansas - for their careful consideration of the evidence and for holding the defendants accountable for their actions. We hope that acts like this never occur. However, if they do, we will vigorously prosecute them.”
“Hate crimes have wide-ranging impact, as their perpetrators attack the victim and intimidate entire communities,” stated FBI Little Rock, Ark., Special Agent-in-Charge Valerie Parlave. “The FBI will continue to collaborate with our state and local partners to investigate and provide important training to address violent hate crimes that are bias-motivated. We will also work with our community partners, such as the Arkansas Civil Rights Working Group, to develop strategies to address and reduce civil rights abuses.”
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Fayetteville, Ark., Division in cooperation with the Arkansas State Police Department and the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Edward Chung and Cindy Chung of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyra E. Jenner for the Western District of Arkansas.