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Trial begins over branding of swastika on Navajo Nation man

Opening arguments were made in a trial of a man accused of branding a Navajo Nation man with a swastika in Farmington, New Mexico.

Jury selection took six hours, The Farmington Daily Times reported. Ten women and five men were selected to decide the fate of William Hatch, 29, who is charged with first-degree felony kidnapping, second-degree felony conspiracy to commit kidnapping, third-degree felony aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and fourth-degree felony conspiracy to commit aggravated battery.

"The evidence in this trial will show that William Hatch that night was a coward, but the evidence will not show he was a criminal," defense attorney Eric Morrow said, the paper reported. "The evidence will show this is someone who got caught up in a prank, who is morally culpable but didn't commit a crime."

Morrow admitted that Hatch "acted improperly [and] acted immorally" when he helped brand a swastika on Kee and write anti-Indian and offense remarks on Kee's body. But he said the prosecution can't prove criminal intent.

Hatch is a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and is part Navajo. He faces a federal hate crimes trial after the trial in Farmington concludes.

Two other men, Paul Beebe and Jesse Sanford, are also facing trials in state and federal court.

Get the Story:
Branding trial defense: It was a prank (The Farmington Daily Times 5/5)

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