ROCKFORD — Two inmates at Thomson Penitentiary in Thompson, Ill., were indicted today by a federal grand jury on murder and hate crime charges relating to the beating death of a fellow inmate.
BRANDON C. SIMONSON, 37, also known as “Whitey,” and KRISTOPHER S. MARTIN, 39, also known as “No Luck,” were each charged with conspiracy to commit murder, second-degree murder, hate crime, and assault resulting in serious bodily injury, according to an indictment returned in U.S. District Court in Rockford. Arraignments have not yet been scheduled.
The four-count indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Vincenza L. Tomlinson.
“Hatred and violence on the basis of religion have no place in our society,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch. “We will continue to work with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to protect the civil rights of all Americans.”
“All Americans have the right to live their lives without fear of race or religion-based violence, and FBI Chicago takes very seriously its responsibility to uphold the civil rights of Illinoisans,” said FBI SAC Buie.
According to the indictment, Martin and Simonson were members of a white supremacist group called the Valhalla Bound Skinheads. On March 2, 2020, Martin and Simonson conspired to assault fellow inmate Matthew Phillips because of Phillips’s actual and perceived race and religion, namely Jewish, the indictment states. Martin and Simonson continuously struck Phillips in the upper body, face, and head even after Phillips became defenseless, the charges allege.
Conspiracy to commit murder, second-degree murder, and hate crime each carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, while the maximum sentence for the assault charge is ten years. If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.