4 face arson, hate crime trial for cross burning

AP News
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Posted: Sep 13, 2011 10:59 AM
4 face arson, hate crime trial for cross burning

Four people have been ordered to stand trial on charges they torched an 11-foot cross outside the California central coast home of a black teenager.

A San Luis Obispo County judge ruled Monday there was enough evidence to try 32-year-old Jeremiah Hernandez, 36-year-old Jason Kahn, 24-year-old Sara Matheny and 20-year-old William Soto.

The defendants are white and Hispanic and are to be arraigned Sept. 28 on arson, conspiracy and hate crime charges.

The San Luis Obispo County Tribune ( http://bit.ly/rdYD4a) reports the cross was set ablaze on March 18 in a lot behind the house where a black family lived. The teen was watching television when she noticed a glowing light outside and saw the cross.

Defense attorneys argue there's no evidence the defendants knew a black person lived there.

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Information from: The Tribune, http://www.sanluisobispo.com