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Updated: Wednesday, 25 Jan 2012, 2:11 PM MST
Published : Monday, 10 May 2010, 7:49 PM MDT
FARMINGTON, N.M. (KRQE) - The District Attorney’s Office in Farmington said it will seek hate crime enhancements on the three men accused of branding a 22-year-old developmentally challenged Native American man with a swastika.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Sarah Weaver said the facts of the case and what happened to the victim call for the hate crime enhancement.
Police said on April 29, Paul Beebe, 26, William Hatch, 28 and Jesse Sanford, 24, lured the victim to the Cedar Ridge apartment complex in Farmington, where they burned a swastika into his arm with a wire hanger, shaved another swastika on his head and more.
“He was drawn on with images of hate speech,” said Sgt. Robert Perez with the Farmington Police Department.
Beebe, Hatch and Sanford have all been charged with kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. Beebe is also charged with tampering with evidence.
Weaver said if the three men are convicted and the hate-crime enhancement is imposed it would be the first time ever in San Juan County a hate-crime enhancement was handed out. "It will be landmark,” she said.
The enhancement is left up to the discretion of the judge and jury and would mean an extra year in prison for the defendants. The challenge now is to prove this crime was motivated by hate, which is not an easy thing to do.
“Oftentimes defendants don't talk," Weaver said. "They invoke the right to remain silent, so you don’t get the kind of information where you can prove it."
Weaver said that is what happened in a 2009 case against Joshua and Jose Garcia. The two brothers are accused of kidnapping and beating a Native American man. Prosecutors had wanted to add the hate-crime enhancement.
“We decided not to charge them with it because we didn't believe we had enough evidence,” Weaver said.
The only time the DA’s Office has filed a notice of a hate crime was against Freddie Brooks, John Winer and CL Carnie. The three men were accused of kidnapping and assaulting a Native American man who was hitchhiking in 2006.
Weaver said in the end, the hate-crime enhancement was not pursued because the three men pleaded to the charges.
The DA’s Office said from what they have seen so far in the case of the developmentally challenged 22-year-old, they believe there is enough evidence to prove this was indeed a hate crime.
Beebe, Hatch and Sanford were arraigned on Monday. All three are jailed on $150,000 cash-only bonds. The Garcia brothers are still awaiting trial.