Guilty Pleas in California Hate Crime
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Billy James Hammett, 28, and Perry Sylvester Jackson, 27, both of Marysville, pleaded guilty recently to a federal hate crime charge for their racially motivated attack on an African American woman and white man in Marysville, on April 18, 2011.
The offense to which the defendants plead guilty constitute violations of The Shepard-Byrd Act that 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.
In pleading guilty both men admitted 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" and punched him twice in the head. Hammett, who has white supremacist tattoos, then approached the driver's side of the car and kicked the African American woman in the chest. A few seconds later a third defendant, Anthony Merrill Tyler smashed the car windshield with a crowbar.
Hammett and Jackson are scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge John A. Mendez on March 25, 2014. They face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 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.
Charges are pending against Tyler. His next court date is January 7, 2014. The charges are only allegations; he is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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.