The Department of Justice announced today that Gary Dodson, 33, of Waldron, Ark., was sentenced in Little Rock for his involvement in firebombing the residence of an interracial couple. On Dec. 7, 2011, Dodson pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the civil rights, criminal interference with housing rights due to race and possession of an unregistered firearm/destructive device. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson sentenced Dodson to 15 years in prison and 3 years of supervised release for the three counts of conviction.
During his plea, Dodson admitted that on the night of Jan. 14, 2011, he attended a party where he and three other men, Jake Murphy, Dustin Hammond and Jason Barnwell, devised a plan to firebomb the victims’ house. Dodson then drove the other men to purchase gas for the firebomb and then Dodson drove everyone to the victims’ house in Hardy, Ark. When they arrived, Barnwell, Murphy and Hammond constructed three Molotov cocktails and threw them at the house. They damaged the victims’ house; however, no one was injured.
Murphy and Hammond previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to and violating the civil rights of the victim. Both 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 incarceration and three years of supervised release. Jason Barnwell pleaded guilty on Aug. 26, 2011, and was sentenced on Jan. 27, 2012 to 20 years incarceration.
“With today’s sentencing, we can finally close the book on this terrible incident of racial hatred,” stated Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez. “The sentence reflects the gravity of these kinds of crimes. The Civil Rights Division will continue to pursue justice in hate crimes such as these, where victims are targeted because of the color of their skin.”
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas Christopher R. Thyer said, “The very strength we have in our communities is a result of the diversity of its people. Those who perpetrate crimes against others solely because of racial differences will find, as these four defendants have, that there is a price to pay. The laws that protect our communities leave no tolerance for hate crimes.”
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 was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Ray White of the Eastern District of Arkansas, and Trial Attorneys Cindy Chung and Henry Leventis of the U.S. Department of Jus tice Civil Rights Division.