Three Yuba County men have been arrested on federal hate crime charges in connection with an attack on an African-American women and a white man.
Billy James Hammett, 28, Perry Sylvester Jackson, 27, both of Marysville, and Anthony Merrell Tyler, 32, of Olivehurst, were arrested Tuesday in connection to an attack on April 18, 2011.
Federal officials say Hammett and Jackson were arrested in Marysville and were arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dale A. Drozd. Not guilty pleas were entered. They will appear before U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez on January 29, 2013 at 9:45 a.m. Tyler surrendered Tuesday in Sacramento and will be arraigned on Wednesday.
The defendants were charged in a three-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Sacramento and unsealed Tuesday. They are charged with one count of conspiracy and two counts of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The Shepard-Byrd Act criminalizes certain acts of physical violence causing bodily injury motivated by any person’s actual or perceived race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability.
The indictment alleges that when an African American woman accompanied by a white male drove into the parking lot of a convenience store, Jackson called the male a “n----- lover.” Hammett then approached the driver’s side of the car, using a racial epithet to refer to the African American driver, while Jackson and Tyler attacked from the other side of the car. The indictment further alleges that Hammett and Jackson punched and kicked the African American woman driver and white male passenger and that Tyler smashed the car windshield with a crowbar.
If convicted, the defendants could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on the conspiracy charge, and 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on each of the two hate-crime charges. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
This case is the product on an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Yuba County Sheriff’s Office and the Yuba County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Steven Lapham and Trial Attorney Chiraag Bains from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case.