FARMINGTON – A U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the hate crime conviction of a Fruitland man who participated in a branding of a mentally disabled Navajo man in Farmington in 2010.
The ruling was filed in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Wednesday.
William Hatch, 31, and two co-defendants were the first people in the country charged with violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
In April 2010, Paul Beebe and Jesse Sanford of Farmington and Hatch of Fruitland were working at a McDonald’s in Farmington and persuaded a mentally disabled Navajo man at the restaurant to go to Beebe’s apartment. While he was there, the three men wrote anti-gay slurs on him and shaved a swastika into his head. They also heated a wire hangar on a stove and branded a swastika on his arm, according to court documents.
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