Four Arkansas Men Sentenced on Civil Rights Charges in Cross Burning Conspiracy
WASHINGTON – Jacob Wingo, Clayton Morrison, Darren McKim and Richard Robins were sentenced today and yesterday in federal court in Hot Springs, Ark., on federal civil rights and obstruction of justice charges related to a conspiracy to drive a woman and her children from their home in Donaldson, Ark., because the victims associated with African-Americans.
Wingo, 20, was sentenced to 24 months in prison, three years of post-incarceration supervision, a fine of $10,000, and a $300 special assessment; Morrison, 29, was sentenced to 15 months in prison, three years of post-incarceration supervision, a fine of $5,000, and a $300 special assessment; McKim, 38, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, three years of post-incarceration supervision, a fine of $5,000, and a $200 special assessment; and Robins, 42, was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison, three years of post-incarceration supervision, a fine of $5,000 and a $200 special assessment. A fifth defendant, Dustin Nix, 21, was sentenced on Nov.6, 2009, to a prison term of 12 months and one day, three years of post-incarceration supervision, a fine of $5,000 and a $200 special assessment.
Each of the defendants pleaded guilty in September 2009. In the plea proceedings and documents filed in court, Wingo admitted building a cross, transporting it to the victims' home and attempting to set it on fire. Morrison admitted to helping prepare the cross and accompanying Wingo and Nix to the victims’ home in order to burn it. McKim and Robbins admitted encouraging Wingo and Nix to build the cross and to burn it at the victims’ home, as well as driving to the victims’ home on a separate occasion to threaten and intimidate them. McKim also admitted to providing materials to Wingo and Nix for them to use to build the cross.
"The defendants in this case threatened a young family with violence simply because they associated with persons of another race. Threats of this kind have no place in this country, but they are regrettably all too common," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez. "Aggressive prosecution of hate crimes is a top priority for the Civil Rights Division, and these convictions should send a message to those who would carry out similar criminal acts."
Special Agents from the FBI’s Little Rock Field Office investigated this matter. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Quinn for the Western District of Arkansas, and Special Litigation Counsel Gerard Hogan and Trial Attorney Benjamin Hawk of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.