Georgia Couple Gets 35 Years For Crashing A Child’s Birthday Party With Racial Threats
By Daily News
A Georgia man and woman cried in court Monday after they were both sentenced to long prison terms for terrorizing a black child’s birthday party with Confederate flags, racial slurs and threats.
Jose Ismael Torres and Kayla Rae Norton were convicted earlier this month under a street gang terrorism law for the 2015 harassment in Douglassville, outside Atlanta, and cried in court on Monday.
Video footage from the party, little more than a month after Dylann Roof’s Charleston church massacre, shows a parade of trucks roaring by with Confederate battle flags.
One person is heard shouting the n-word, while witnesses said that another had a gun and said “he was gonna kill the n—–s.”
Superior Court Judge William McClain said at sentencing that Torres, 26, and Norton, 25, had committed a hate crime, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Georgia does not have a hate crime statute.
Torres was sentenced to 20 years, with 13 of them in prison, for aggravated assault, terroristic threats and street gang terrorism.
Norton, who according to the Journal-Constitution is the mother of Torres’s children, was sentenced to 15, serving six, for terroristic threats and street gang terrorism.
“Justice has been served,” Melissa Alford, who was at the party and posted a video, said in a statement to the Daily News.
She said that she agreed with the harsh sentences imposed by the judge, and thanked prosecutors and friends for their support.
The presence of the Confederate battle flag throughout much of the South came under scrutiny after the shooting by Roof, who was pictured with the banner on his white supremacist website.
Prosecutors have said that the cases against Torres, Norton and other defendants are not based on their right to fly a Confederate flag, but on threats against the victims.
“This is behavior that even supporters of the Confederate battle flag can agree is criminal and shouldn’t be allowed,” Douglas County District Attorney Brian Fortner said in a statement.
A grand jury indicted 15 people in the “Respect the Flag” group, which said that victims had thrown objects at them, on street gang terrorism charges for the birthday party disruption.
Georgia Department of Corrections efforts show that Thomas Charles Summers was convicted of terrorist threats and battery, and sentenced to six years in prison last year.
Others who were less involved pleaded guilty and were put into diversion program, the Journal-Constitution reported.