Evidence Shows Youth More Likely Than Adults to Commit Hate Crimes
By Camille Jackson
Criminologists long have known that youths are more likely than adults to act out violent ideas. This may be particularly true for hate crimes and other ideologically motivated violence, because teenagers and those in their early 20s seem to see the statements made by older ideologues as justification for action.
What follows is a small selection of apparent ideological youth crimes from the new millennium, ranging from cross-burnings to brutal gangland murders.
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Eight youths aged 14 to 17 chased down five Mexican nursery workers at a campsite in the Carmel Valley, assaulting them with steel rods, pellet guns and rocks. The July 5, 2000, attack, which targeted elderly legal immigrants, left one man with brain damage so severe that he can no longer hold a conversation.
Adam Ketsdever and Bradley Davidofsky were identified as ringleaders and sentenced to two years in the county jail. Steven James Deboer got a one-year sentence. Michael Anthony Rose had a prior record and was ordered held in youth facilities, possibly until his 25th birthday.
The other four — Nicholas Paul Fileccia, Kevin Scott Williams, Morgan Victor Manduley and Jason Wayne Beever — were sentenced to four to eight months in youth facilities. A civil lawsuit against the boys' families resulted in an award to the victims of $1.4 million.
Recruited by a 24-year-old whom they referred to as "commander," five boys aged 14 to 17 engaged in a spree of racist vandalism that stretched through several months of late 2000 and into early 2001.
The boys, who pleaded guilty to burning crosses in a park and spray-painting racist graffiti and swastikas at a Korean church and a Jewish cemetery, were all placed on probation.
Brian Raymond Hauth told police he had driven them to crime scenes. Hauth was sentenced to 33 months in prison for his role in directing the criminal activity of the so-called Oregon State Boot Boys.
CENTRAL ISLIP, NEW YORK
Four teenagers — Connor Cash, 19, Jared McIntyre and George Mashkow, both 17, and Matthew Rammelkamp, 16 — were charged with burning down four luxury homes on Dec. 29, 2000. Three were later convicted of arson and conspiracy. The fourth, Connor Cash, was acquitted in May.
The teenagers left graffiti indicating that they carried out the action in the name of the Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmental group that advocates what it calls "direct action."
A black teenage boy who participated in alcohol-fueled riots in Pioneer Square on Feb. 27, 2001, was charged with fourth-degree assault after reportedly telling police that he had joined an attack on a fallen white man because he thought of himself as a soldier in a racial war.
Police initially asked that Khalid Adams, 17, be charged with a hate crime, but prosecutors decided not to do so because their only evidence was a videotape of the attack.
The riots, which took place during Mardi Gras celebrations, consisted almost entirely of attacks by blacks on whites, according to witnesses and videotape. Adams later pleaded no contest to lesser assault and theft charges.
On the night of June 16, 2001, 18-year-old Shaun Murphy offered a ride to transgendered 16-year-old F. C. Martinez. Five days later, Martinez's body was found in a canyon outside Cortez, her skull smashed with a boulder and her stomach sliced open.
Murphy told police he attacked Martinez in self defense, but witnesses said he had bragged to friends that he had "bug-smashed a joto," using a Spanish slang word for a gay man. Murphy, who had a long record of violence and was a member of the East Side Locos Trece gang, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the murder.
Nine black teenagers, most of them students at Charlottesville High School, carried out five random attacks on white and Asian students at the University of Virginia.
Police said that several of those involved in the attacks, which occurred between September 2001 and January 2002, admitted they targeted their victims because they thought they were white. In the end, however, prosecutors declined to file hate crime charges, saying that racial slurs had not been used and that the teens were more motivated by class envy.
Eighteen-year-old Gordon Fields pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in adult court. The others, all of them younger, were referred to the juvenile courts, where they faced a variety of misdemeanor charges.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
Authorities say that 20-year-old Anthony Prentice was a member of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations, a "minister" in the rabidly anti-Semitic World Church of the Creator, part of the violent Hammerskin Skinhead gang — and the roommate of a gay man, the kind of person despised by all the groups to which Prentice belonged.
On Aug. 30, 2002, Prentice and an alleged accomplice, James "Evil" Harrison, 21, stabbed the roommate, 58-year-old driving instructor Dan Miller, 128 times and carved a swastika into his back. Prentice was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole, rather than death, as he had requested. A trial for Harrison is scheduled for Nov. 16, 2004.
Three high school buddies tried to destroy a construction crane in the name of the Earth Liberation Front on Sept. 21, 2002, after their attempts to set it alight failed.
After their arrest, Adam Blackwell, 18, and Aaron Linas and John Wade, both 17, admitted that they had taken part in ELF-style attacks over a period of five months, damaging a suburban construction site, SUVs at a local Ford dealership and the windows of several fast-food restaurants.
Convicted on federal criminal conspiracy charges in 2004, Linas and Wade were sentenced to about three years each and ordered to pay $204,000 in restitution. Blackwell's trial is pending.
FARMINGVILLE, NEW YORK
After hearing years of vitriol about Mexicans from adults in their community, five white teenagers set fire to a home where a Mexican family was sleeping on the early morning of July 5, 2003. The family awoke and was not injured.
When police arrested the group — Derek Brandafino and Kyle Mahler, both 17, William Lutz and Scott Soucek, both 16, and an unnamed 15-year-old — they found magazine photos of Klan members and anti-Hispanic literature in Mahler's pocket. The four older boys, who pleaded guilty in return for leniency, were to be sentenced on July 13, 2004.
Two white students at Murrieta Valley High School — 17-year-old Noah Rawls and 14-year-old Saege Hall — randomly attacked a black student outside the principal's office on Aug. 20, 2003, punching and kicking him so severely that his jaw was badly injured. The two were apparently enraged that Hall's older brother, 17-year-old Dylan Hall, had been sent to the principal's office earlier, after taunting another black student with racial slurs.
Police charged Rawls and Saege Hall with assault with a deadly weapon and Dylan Hall with uttering threats. All three pleaded guilty to the charges in juvenile court. Rawls and Saege Hall received eight to nine months in a juvenile facility, while Dylan Hall was handed six months of probation.
Four young white men allegedly attacked and nearly beat to death a 42-year-old mentally disabled black men in a pasture after all five had spent time drinking together at a Sept. 28, 2003, party. A cousin of victim Billy Ray Johnson told reporters that the foursome had first forced Johnson to dance and perform other humiliating acts.
Johnson's alleged attackers — Dallas Chadwick Stone, 18, John Wesley Owens, 19, Christopher Colt Amox, 20, and James Cory Hicks, 24 — then dumped their victim, who was in a coma and suffering brain hemorrhaging, on a fire ant mound in the woods by the side of a road. The men were charged with aggravated assault.
BOULDER CITY, NEVADA
Six youths, said to be members of a white supremacy-tinged drug gang called The Crew, allegedly joined in the Oct. 15, 2003, murder of 17-year-old Jared Whaley because they thought he was about to reveal their illicit business.
One of the six, 17-year-old Shane Johnson, described himself as a member of the Kentucky-based Imperial Klans of America. After entering into a plea agreement, Johnson testified that he had initially stun-gunned the victim in the desert near Boulder City, but that Whaley did not go down. Then, he said, 17-year-old Shane Myers bludgeoned him with a tire iron.
Finally, he said, Matthew Douglas Baker, the 18-year-old alleged ringleader, shot Whaley in the head with a shotgun, killing him. The group then disfigured their former friend's face in an effort to hide his identity, even chopping teeth out of his mouth before burying his body.
Johnson, Baker, Myers, Myers' twin brother Cody, 17, and Stephen James Springfield, 19, were charged with murder. A sixth man, Gerald Wilks Jr., 20, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in return for leniency.
FORT WORTH, TEXAS
A 14-year-old boy, apparently trying to curry favor with the Aryan Brotherhood supremacist gang in order to become a full-fledged member, allegedly shot and killed Donnie "Tiger" Finchum on Dec. 13, 2003.
Just moments earlier, Finchum had argued with his roommate, Aryan Brotherhood member Christopher Sellers. Police say Sellers threatened Finchum with a gun, but then desisted. At that moment, the 14-year-old arrived with a group to help Sellers move out of the apartment.
The boy allegedly grabbed Sellers' gun, saying, "I'll kill you, I'll kill you," and, after Sellers and others left the room, shot and killed Finchum. The boy fled with Sellers and was only captured about a month later. Prosecutors sought to try the boy as an adult, but a judge refused. A trial was set for spring 2004.
After learning that National Socialist Movement member Michael Kenneth Faust was conducting firearms training for neo-Nazi teenagers on his grandmother's farm, authorities raided the farm on Dec. 23, 2003, and arrested Faust on charges of being a felon in possession of firearms. Faust, 36, had earlier served eight years in prison for shooting a 14-year-old in the chest in 1990.
Officials found a dozen weapons and Faust pleaded guilty to two felony weapons charges, drawing a sentence of a little over five years. Faust's attorney, noting that Faust was secretly of Jewish descent and suffered from paranoid fears of neo-Nazis, asked for less time unsuccessfully.
A 16-year-old boy, who officials say was "clearly guided" by a 22-year-old felon, joined his mentor in the Jan. 2, 2004, burning of a large cross on the lawn of a black woman's home. Police say they had little trouble tracking down the boy and his friend, Christopher Dale Easley, because the pair had allegedly left swastikas and racial slurs outside the woman's house just weeks before.
The teenager pleaded guilty to various charges and was sentenced to 12 to 18 months in a juvenile facility. Easley, facing federal charges of civil rights violations, interference with housing rights and the use of fire to commit a felony, could get up to 30 years if convicted.
Four boys, aged 13 to 15, were arrested after worshippers arriving at the Islamic Center of South Plains on March 7, 2004, found extensive vandalism and anti-Muslim slurs like "sand niggers" scrawled on the center's walls.
Two of the boys were ordered to perform community service and pay $12,000 in restitution, while another was sent to a juvenile detention facility. Punishment for the youngest of the four was still pending at press time.
Two 16-year-old boys, members of what Arlington police officials described as a loose-knit white supremacist gang called The Hics, burned a gasoline-soaked cross on the lawn of Jason Martin, a black pastor, on March 24, 2004.
The teens later pleaded guilty and were ordered to spend 30 days in a juvenile facility and perform 72 hours of community service. The light sentence drew criticism from Martin.
Twenty-year-old Michael Breit was arrested after police came to his apartment on April 21, 2004, because he'd accidentally fired his AK-47 assault rifle.
Breit allowed officers to search his home, where they found a cache of weapons and explosives including materials to make pipe bombs, a hand grenade, a sawed-off shotgun, a sword and black powder. A copy of The Turner Diaries, a famous racist novel, was also found, along with books detailing how to make bombs.
Police say Breit had outlined a written plan for 15 men with automatic rifles and hand grenades to kill 1,500 people at a Democratic caucus, and had also prepared a list of liberal anti-gun politicians who were "marked to die."
Breit was charged with federal counts of illegally receiving material to make an explosive device and receiving an explosive with intent to use it to kill or to damage property. A court date is pending.