WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice announced today that Jason Barnwell, 37, of Evening Shade, Ark., was sentenced in Little Rock, Ark., for his involvement in firebombing the residence of an interracial couple. On Aug. 26, 2011, Barnwell pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the civil rights of a resident of Hardy, Ark., and to using fire in the commission of that offense. Barnwell also pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson sentenced Barnwell to 20 years in prison for the three counts.
During his plea, Barnwell admitted that on the night of Jan. 14, 2011, he hosted a party where he and three other men, Jake Murphy, Dustin Hammond and Gary Dodson, devised a plan to firebomb the victims’ house. The men then went to the victims’ house in Hardy and when they arrived, Barnwell, Murphy and Hammond constructed three Molotov cocktails and threw them at the house. The Molotov cocktails ignited and damaged the victims’ house; however, the victims fortunately were not injured.
Murphy and Hammond have already pleaded guilty to civil rights violations for their role in this incident. Both defendants received sentences of 54 months incarceration and three years of supervised release. In June 2011, Wendy Treybig, who co-hosted the party on Jan. 14, 2011, with Barnwell, pleaded guilty to obstructing justice. She was sentenced on Dec.13, 2011, to 21 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Gary Dodson pleaded guilty on Dec.7, 2011, and will be sentenced on April 6, 2011.
“This defendant not only committed acts of race-based violence, but recruited others to commit these hate-filled crimes as well. There is no place in our society for criminal acts such as these,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute individuals who commit such atrocious acts.”
This case was investigated by the Little Rock Office of the FBI and the Little Rock Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with assistance from the Arkansas State Police, the Hardy and Waldron Police Departments, and the Scott and Sharp County Sheriff’s Offices. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Ray White of the Eastern District of Arkansas, and Trial Attorneys Henry Leventis and Cindy Chung of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.