Illinois man's ire over Martin case prompts hate crime -police

Reuters News

4/26/2012 1:53:46 PM - Reuters News

CHICAGO (Reuters) - An 18-year-old black man has been charged with a hate crime after he told police he punched and kicked a white man during a robbery in a Chicago suburb because he was angry about the Trayvon Martin slaying, authorities said on Thursday.

Alton Hayes III and a 15-year-old boy attacked the man last week in Oak Park, Illinois. Hayes told police he chose the man because he was white and beat him because he was angry about the Martin case, Andy Conklin of the Cook County prosecutor's office said.

Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, was killed in Florida in February by a neighborhood watch volunteer who is white and Hispanic. Police initially declined to arrest the volunteer, George Zimmerman, citing Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows people to use deadly force when they believe they are in danger.

Hayes was charged with robbery, aggravated battery, unlawful restraint, and a hate crime. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted, Conklin said.

The lack of an arrest in the Martin Case led thousands to march in rallies in Florida and around the nation to demand Zimmerman's arrest and to criticize investigators. A special prosecutor appointed by Florida's governor charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder on April 11. He is free on bond.

(Reporting By Andrew Stern; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Philip Barbara)