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hate crimes

Man is Charged with Hate Crime in Texas Mosque Fire

By Peek & Toland on December 22, 2017

A man has been charged with a hate crime following a Texas mosque fire earlier this year.

Marq Vincent Perez was indicted on a hate crime charge for a devastating fire at a mosque in Victoria in January which was the scene of religious-based hatred several years ago.

Federal prosecutors accused Perez of starting a fire on January 28 that completely destroyed the Islamic center in Victoria, which is about 125 miles southwest of Houston.

Perez, 25, from Victoria, was indicted in the summer on two counts of hate crime-damage to religious property and use of a fire to commit a federal felony.

A report on CBS News said Perez from Victoria was previously been indicted for possession of an unregistered destructive device on an unrelated incident. He is accused of trying to set fire to a car owned by a former friend just over a week earlier on Jan. 15.

Federal hate crime charges carry a very heavy sentence. If Perez is convicted of the hate crime charge, he could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

Perez has remained in jail without bond since he was arrested back in March on the charge unrelated to the fire at the Islamic center.

Texas Mosque Fire

Texas Mosque Fire classified as a hate crime

Further details were revealed by prosecutors in that case about the mosque fire. Perez is accused of believing the worshippers at the mosques were terrorists. He may have been scoping out other mosques to attack, prosecutors claimed.

Rick Miller, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives relayed comments from an informant at the hearing, CBS reported.

The informant is said to have told authorities that he took part in burglaries at the mosque with Perez on Jan. 22 and 28.

The informant told the authorities, Perez, allegedly “hated” Muslims. He said the two men broke into the mosque to find out if worshippers were concealing weapons there, Miller testified.

Hate crimes can be brought on a federal level and under Texas’ hate crime statute, although these charges are frequently reduced in a plea bargain.

We noted an apparent increase in racially motivated attacks after last year’s presidential election.

The hate crime charge against Perez was welcomed by the Texas office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Mustafaa Carroll, executive director of CAIR’s Houston office said:

“We thank state and federal law enforcement authorities for their diligence in investigating and prosecuting this case.”

If you have been charged with a hate crime you may be facing decades behind bars. Call out Austin, Texas, criminal defense lawyers today for a consultation at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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Racially Motivated Attacks – Suspect in Bar Shooting of Indians ‘Thought They Were Iranians’

By Peek & Toland on June 28, 2017

Racially motivated attacks across the country including a fatal shooting in a Kansas bar, have raised questions about anti-Islamic rhetoric.

In February, a man shot three people at the bar. Two of them were Indians, one of whom died of his injuries. A third person who intervened was also wounded.

Subsequent reports suggested the shooter falsely believed the two Indian men to be Iranians, reported the Washington Post.

A bartender later called 911 to say a man had come into a restaurant and said he shot two Iranians in Olathe in Kansas.

She found out a shooting had taken place in Olathe, about 20 miles southwest of Kansas City. Her 911 call led police to pick up Adam Purinton, 51. Other witness statements suggested the bar shooter thought the two Indian victims, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, were of Middle Eastern descent.

Racially motivate attacks included shootings of two Indians

Racially-motivated attacks on Indians raise concerns

They were Indian nationals employed by the technology company Garmin. The Indians received master’s degrees in America. Kuchibhotla did not survive his injuries. Madasani was released from a hospital the day after the shooting. An American who was wounded when he tried to stop the shooting also recovered.

Purinton, a Navy veteran, was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder. Federal authorities are treating the shootings as a hate crime.

The incident led to consternation in India. Many skilled workers in the Indian technology industry find employment in the United States while American colleges and universities take large numbers of students from the Indian subcontinent.

The father of Madasani appealed to parents in India not to send their children to the United States.

Many of the alleged hate crimes have been aimed at Muslims. In Florida, a 64-year-old man said he tried to set a convenience store on fire because he believed the owners were Muslim, according to St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara.

A report on CNN said Richard Lloyd allegedly told deputies he wanted to run Arabs out the United States so he pushed a dumpster in front of the store and set its contents on fire.

In South Carolina, the fatal shooting of an Indian man in March is being investigated as potentially racially motivated.

In Victoria in Texas, a mosque was burned down. While police say the fire appears to have been an arson, they stopped short of labeling it a hate crime. Fires at four mosques were reported in seven weeks, including one in Austin.

Racially motivated attacks appear to have spiked in recent months. The American Civil Liberties Union warned of a “new dawn for hate” after a series of hate crimes was reported last November.

These are difficult times to be a foreign national in the United States. For help or advice call our Texas immigration lawyers at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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Texas Father Admits Hate Crime Hoax, Say Reports

By Peek & Toland on April 19, 2017

Texas and other states experienced a surge in hate crimes in the days and weeks after the presidential election. However, one well-documented incident in Texas appears ton have been a hate crime hoax.

Authorities in Texas said David Williams admitted to vandalizing his own Fort Worth-area home and making it look like a hate crime.

A report on Fusion said Williams, of Denton, claimed he woke up with his wife Jenny on Dec. 12 to find the family’s vehicles on fire. Racist graffiti directed at African Americans was painted across the family’s garage. Williams and his family are white.

Williams told the Denton Record-Chronicle he believed “punk kids” committed the vandalism. The newspaper later reported Williams admitted responsibility for the incident. Jenny Williams said her husband’s head was “definitely not in the right place.”

Hate crime hoax made headlines

Williams faced being charged with arson at a minimum over the hate crime hoax, according to Denton Fire Department spokesperson David Hedges.

However, reports said David Williams was being held in a mental health facility. Authorities were looking at whether any other charges should be brought.

When an Offense is a Hate Crime Hoax

Although the idea of staging a hate crime seems bizarre, it’s not the only apparent hate crime hoax. There are other examples of this taking place across the country.

The incidents illustrate how false claims about crimes can be made for a variety of reasons. Sadly, in some cases the wrong people end up arrested for these crimes.

Last year the so-called “San Antonio Four” were exonerated by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The four women were accused in 1994 of the sexual assault of two young girls.

In 2012, the younger accuser recanted her story. It appears the girls were pressurized to invent the story by a family member.

More false claims concern sexual offenses than other crimes. Recently, Bloomberg reported how statistically between 2 percent and 8 percent of all reported rapes are found to be false.

The issue came to the fore over the recent controversial report by Rolling Stone about a rape at the University of Virginia that was later discredited. However, only about 40 percent of rapes are reported.

The Bloomberg article pointed out that means for every false accusation of sexual assault, about 100 rapes are committed.

If you have been charged with an offense such as a hate crime or a sexual offense, witness evidence may be flawed. An experienced Austin criminal defense lawyer can exploit weaknesses in the prosecution case. Call us for a consultation at (512) 474-4445 and read about our credentials on our website.

 

Posted in Criminal Defense

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