Sentencing in Maumelle hate crime. | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sentencing in Maumelle hate crime.

Posted By on Wed, Dec 19, 2007 at 11:36 AM

Federal Judge James Moody handed down a sentence today in the case of Shawn Hardin, the Maumelle woman who pleaded guilty to sending a racially charged letter to her neighbors, the Terry family: six months prison and six months home confinement with electronic monitoring. Hardin is due to report to prison in January and has 10 days to appeal. The official federal charge was Criminal Interference with Right to Fair Housing.

Moody had to weigh several factors, including a brain injury that Hardin sustained in 2004 and a second, more conciliatory letter that Hardin duct-taped to the Terrys’ door after she was indicted. Federal prosecutor Michael Johnson argued that the second letter was not contrite, and that it laid blame on the Terrys’ children for the initial letter. He asked for the full sentence: 12 months in jail. Moody agreed — he said Hardin’s brain injury didn’t justify her conduct — but split the sentence between prison and house arrest.

The case for maximum time was supported by strong testimony from the Terrys, who talked about how they felt threatened by the unprovoked letter. (Hardin had never met the Terrys when she sent it.) Hardin didn’t help herself with her own hysterical testimony, during which she tried to explain the letter by saying she was single mother who was afraid for her daughter — a defense that seemed to confirm the offense.

Because of the difficulty of proving discrimination charges, this was a relatively rare case. But Johnson said after the hearing that the government will prosecute any similar incident where it has grounds to proceed.  

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