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Department of Justice
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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Final Missouri Defendant Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison for Vandalism and Arson of Biracial Man’s Home

WASHINGTON – A Missouri man was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for his role in the vandalism and arson of a biracial man's home in Independence, Mo., the Department of Justice announced.

David Martin, 24, of Independence, was sentenced in the Western District of Missouri by U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple.

On March 7, 2012, Martin pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of violating the Fair Housing Act. Martin's co-conspirators, Teresa Witthar and Charles Wilhelm, pleaded guilty on Feb. 2, 2012, and March 8, 2012, respectively, for their roles in vandalizing and burning down Nathaniel Reed's home in Independence.

According to the plea agreement filed with the court, Martin, Witthar and Wilhelm conspired to intimidate and scare Reed, a biracial man, into moving out of the Highland Manor Mobile Home Park in Independence, in part because of his race. On or about June 6, 2006, Martin, along with Witthar and Wilhelm, entered Reed's mobile home, without his permission, and vandalized it by writing at least 15 racially derogatory slurs on the walls of his trailer.

Two days later, on or about June 8, 2006, Witthar drove Martin and Wilhelm to a neighborhood behind Reed's home so that they could set fire to his home without being detected. Witthar waited in her vehicle for Martin and Wilhelm to set the fire and then provided them a ride back to the Highland Manor Mobile Home Park.

"Every American has the right to live in their homes without fear of racially-motivated violence," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Laws that prohibit these heinous acts."

Witthar was sentenced to 63 months in prison on June 18, 2012. Wilhelm was sentenced to 42 months in prison on July 24, 2012.

These guilty pleas were the result of a cooperative effort between the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. This case was investigated by the Kansas City Division of the FBI. It is being prosecuted by Acting U.S. Attorney David Ketchmark for the Western District of Missouri and Trial Attorney Sheldon L. Beer of the Civil Rights Division.

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