Michael Bullard and Richard Armstrong have been convicted on charges of a federal hate crime as well as conspiracy and face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison each. The crime is related to an incident in July 2008 where they assaulted an African-American man.
According to District Attorney’s Office, the men were convicted last Wednesday by a jury in Boise, Idaho. The third suspect, James Whitewater, who was also involved in the incident last year, chose the route of pleading guilty before the trial commenced and even testified against the other defendants. According to Deputy U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson, the lead prosecutor, Whitewater fully snitched on his co-horts and gave a detailed description of the events that transpired and why everything happened. His testimony may be rewarded with a lower sentence but a plea agreement has yet to be worked out.
A witness’ testimony stated that Armstrong made an attempt to disrespect the man with racial remarks. Other witnesses pointed the three men out as all being active participants in the assault as one of their girlfriends, Jennifer, Hartpence, sat in the background cheering them on.
Loretta King, assistant attorney general, stated that the crime was clearly driven by the fact that the young man was Black and asserted that the court’s decision reinforced the fact that hate crimes are intolerable in America. That statement, however, could be in question outside of good ole’ Boise.
Raylen Smith, 25, was the victim of the “racially-driven” assault. According to reports, on July 4 Smith was jumped by the three on his way out of Wal-Mart and was chased and beaten by the three assailants. The victim was chased all the way to a ditch and was beaten unconscious. Prior to him exiting the store, it was reported that the three were making racial slurs while in the store.
Bullard, 22, and Armstrong, 24, will be in front of the court again on October 19 for violating Smith’s civil rights.
The win is somewhat bitter-sweet as all three were not sentenced for the crime. But that goes to show kids that if you do stupid things with your friends, as long as you rat them out you might be let off the hook too.