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A First: Ark. Man Convicted at Trial Under Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crime Law


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Federal prosecutors in Arkansas convicted a man Thursday of hate crimes, the first time a conviction was won at trial for violations of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was enacted in October 2009, the Justice Department said.

Frankie Maybee, 20, of Green Forest, Ark., was convicted of five counts of committing a federal hate crime and one count of conspiring to commit a federal hate crime. Co-defendant Sean Popejoy, 19, of Green Forest, pleaded guilty in the case guilty in the case on Monday.

Authorities charged that Maybee and Popejoy last June threatened and injured five Hispanic men. The men  pursued the victims in a truck, and when they caught up,  Popejoy leaned outside of the front passenger window and waived a tire wrench at the victims, and continued to threaten and hurl racial epithets at the victims, authorities said.

Maybee, driving his truck, rammed into the victims’ car repeatedly, which caused the victims’ car to cross the opposite lane of traffic, go off the road, crash into a tree and ignite, authorities said. As a result, the victims were injured.

“The defendants targeted five men because they were Hispanic, and today’s verdict shows that the Justice Department is committed to vigorously prosecuting individuals who perform acts of hate because of someone’s race or national origin,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

“We will continue to use the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and every other tool in our law enforcement arsenal, to identify and prosecute hate crimes whenever they occur.”


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