The family of a disabled Navajo man branded with a swastika …
Two men accused of branding a mentally disabled Navajo man with…
Two of three New Mexico men accused of branding a swastika on …
A federal trial has been set for Oct. 3 for three northwestern …
Updated: Wednesday, 25 Jan 2012, 2:31 PM MST
Published : Thursday, 18 Aug 2011, 5:44 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - Two men owned up in federal court Thursday to their roles in branding a mentally disabled Navajo man with a swastika.
Paul Beebe and Jesse Sanford of San Juan County both pleaded guilty to hate-crime charges.
The victim and his family made the trip to Albuquerque for the hearing.
“What they did to me is wrong,” Vincent Kee said.
Kee said he has a permanent reminder of the horror Beebe, Sanford and William Hatch put him through in Farmington in April 2010.
“I feel the scar that’s on my arm is for life, and they did pretty harm,” Kee said.
The three men lured Kee, who is Navajo and has a developmental disability, back to Beebe’s apartment.
They shaved a swastika on his head, drew hate speech on his body and branded a swastika into his arm with a hot wire hanger.
Beebe admitted he was the one who did the branding.
“I still can’t get over my son’s brand, and it's still on him,” Kee's mother Bernice Silversmith said. "They have burned him really deep into the skin, and the scar has spread out more."
Beebe and Sanford were in federal court Thursday to enter guilty pleas.
Beebe pleaded guilty to committing a racially motivated hate crime. Sanford pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit a racially motivated hate crime.
Hatch pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy charge as Sanford earlier this summer.
The U.S Department of Justice said this is the first case in the country to be prosecuted under the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act.
“This is what justice is about is making sure that anyone in any station of life understands that the department of justice will be there when they are a victim,” said Thomas Perez, the assistant attorneygGeneral with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.
Kee and his family are thrilled to see the wheels of justice in motion moving the case closer to a resolution.
However, they admit that does not mean they are any closer to closure.
“What they have harmed him and done to him and its still affecting him,” Silversmith said. "He still gets nightmares."
Those nightmares appear in the daytime, too. Every time Kee looks at his arm he can’t help but wonder.
“Why would they, why would they hurt me?” Kee said. “Why would they hurt me just to make fun of me, just give me drugs and hurt me?”
The defendants are still waiting to be sentenced for their state charges.
Hatch was convicted of conspiracy to commit aggravated battery, a fourth degree felony. Beebe and Sanford each pleaded to once count of attempted kidnapping.
Following the sentencing on the state charges all three will be turned over to the feds.
Beebe could face up to 8 1/2 years in prison on the federal charges.
Sanford and Hatch are looking at up to five years in prison.
Under the plea agreement the men will be able to serve their federal and state sentences at the same time.