Photo: Hispanic Hate
The Department of Justice has convicted the first person under the new federal ‘Hate Crimes Prevention Act’ for attacks made on a group of Latinos in Arkansas. The federal law is named after Matthew Sheppard and James Byrd, Jr. and has been on the books since 2009.
Sean Popejoy, 19, of Green Forest, Ark., pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of committing a federal hate crime and one count of conspiring to commit a federal hate crime.
nformation presented during the plea hearing established that in the early morning hours of June 20, 2010, Popejoy admitted that he was part of a conspiracy to threaten and injure five Hispanic men who had pulled into a gas station parking lot. The co-conspirators pursued the victims in a truck. When the co-conspirators caught up to the victims, 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.
The co-conspirator rammed into the victims’ car, which caused the victims’ car to cross the opposite lane of traffic, go off the road, crash into a tree and ignite. As a result of the co-conspirators’ actions, the victims suffered bodily injury, including one victim who sustained life-threatening injuries.
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison.