By Allan Lengel
In one of the more repulsive cases of human behavior, two racist men pleaded guilty Thursday in New Mexico to defacing the body of a developmentally disabled Native American of Navajo descent. The defacing included branding the 22-year-old man with a swastika, using a heated wire hanger.
Paul Beebe and Jesse Sanford of Farmington, N.M., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, N.M., to federal hate crime charges related to a racially-motivated assault. A third made pleaded guilty in June.
Beebe, Hatch and Sanford were indicted in November. They became the first defendants to be charged under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (Shepard/Byrd Act), which was enacted in 2009.
“Deplorable, hate-filled incidents like this one have no place in a civilized society,” Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas Perez said in a statement.
“ No one anywhere, but especially in a state like New Mexico that prides itself on its ethnic, racial and cultural diversity, should be victimized because of what he or she happens to be,” added U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico Kenneth J. Gonzales in a statement. “The young victim in this case was assaulted, branded and scarred because he happens to be a Native American – that simply is inexcusable and criminal. ”
During the plea hearing, Beebe and Sanford admitted that Beebe took the victim to his apartment, which was adorned in racist paraphernalia, including a Nazi flag and a woven dream catcher with a swastika in it, the Justice Department said.
After the victim had fallen asleep, the defendants began defacing the victim’s body by drawing on him with blue, red and black markers, authorities said.
After the victim awoke, Beebe branded the victim with a swastika, using a heated wire hanger. The victim had a towel stuffed in his mouth at the time, authorities said.
Authorities said the defendants coerced the man into agreeing to be branded and recorded that on a cell phone.
They also admitted defacing the victim’s body with white supremacist and anti-Native American symbols, including shaving a swastika in the back of the victim’s head and using markers to write the words “KKK” and “White Power” within the lines of the swastika.
The two also mocked the victim’s heritage by drawing an ejaculating penis and testicles on his back and telling him they were “native pride feathers,” authorities said. They recorded the incident on a cello phone to show law enforcement they had “proof” the victim consented to the acts.