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Two plead guilty to hate crimes for branding of Navajo Nation man

Two men pleaded guilty to federal hate crimes charges for branding a young member of the Navajo Nation with a swastika.

Paul Beebe, 28, and Jesse Sanford, 26, admitted they used a wire hanger to brand the swastika on the arm of Vincent Kee, 22. They also shaved a swastika in the back of Kee's head and wrote slurs and degrading remarks on his body.

"Absolutely," Beebe answered when asked by a federal judge whether he branded the swastika, The Farmington Daily Times reported. The incident occurred April 29, 2010, in Farmington, New Mexico, a border town.

Beebe and Sanford were the first people charged under the new Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Beebe pleaded guilty to violating the law and faces up to 8.5 years, the paper reported.

Sanford pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit a federal hate crime and faces a maximum of five years. A third defendant, William Hatch, 29, pleaded to a similar charge.

All three men were also charged in state court. Hatch was cleared of most of the serious counts after a trial earlier this year. Beebe and Sanford pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in September prior to being sentenced in federal court.

Get the Story:
Branding suspects plead guilty (The Farmington Daily Times 8/19)

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