Two Puerto Rican Men Sentenced for Federal Hate Crime Against a Latina Transgender Woman and Obstruction of Justice Charges
WASHINGTON – Two Arkansas men pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Little Rock, Ark., to charges related to their involvement in the firebombing of the house of an interracial couple, the Justice Department announced.
During the plea proceedings, Dustin Hammond of Sharp County, Ark., and Jake Murphy of Scott County, Ark., admitted that on the night of Jan.14, 2011, while at a party in Evening Shade, Ark., they and two other men devised a plan to firebomb an interracial couple’s home. Thereafter, all four co-defendants drove from Evening Shade to the victims’ house in Hardy, Ark. Upon arrival, the co-defendants constructed three Molotov cocktails and threw them at the house. The couple was also barraged with racial slurs and threatened with future violence if they did not leave Arkansas. The victims’ house sustained some damage during the incident. The victims were not injured.
Hammond and Murphy pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against rights and one count of criminal violation of housing rights.
“Firebombing a family’s home because of their race is a deplorable act of hate that will not be tolerated in our country,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will vigorously prosecute those who resort to violent acts motivated by hate.”
Hammond and Murphy face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Sentencing has been set for Aug. 12, 2011. The remaining co-defendants are scheduled to go to trial on May 31, 2011.
This case was investigated by the Little Rock, Ark., Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Ray White of the Eastern District of Arkansas and Trial Attorney Henry Leventis of the Civil Rights Division.