Why was racially motivated beating not charged as a hate crime?

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - We have the shocking images tonight of a brutal beating in Richmond's Fan District.

It was just hours ago that a jury found two white brothers from Hanover County guilty of severely beating an African-American man. Prosecutors say the attack was racially motivated.

But we wanted to know why this beating wasn't charged as a hate crime?

The beating happened on South Davis Street. It was the middle of the day, New Years Day. Neighbors say they thought Arthur Faison was being beaten to death. Faison thinks he was the victim of a hate crime.

"This is Virginia," Faison said.  "It's a lot of hate going on around here. You know people like to turn their head to it. But it's out there in the street and it ain't to be ignored."

What happened to Faison will never be forgotten by Kelley Davis. She and her husband called 911 and snapped the pictures of Todd and David Landeck hitting Faison with a wooden board.

"They were basically using it as a bat and hitting him in the head and as it hit his head on impact the board would splinter," Davis said. "It was probably the most graphic, horrifying thing that I've ever witnessed."

Faison says it all began with a confrontation on the street.

"I bumped into them as they came around the corner, they just started calling me n!%&* 'go sell crack, go smoke crack.'. You know. Right there I knew what I was up against," he said.

He says derogatory words were exchanged several times. Faison was beaten so badly his head was cracked open and his arm is permanently injured.

When asked why it wasn't tried as a hate crime, prosecuting attorney Tim Martin said he felt like the aggravated malicious wounding statute was enough.

NBC12 legal analyst Steven Benjamin says proving a hate crime is difficult and the punishment in Virginia is far less severe.

"They were charged and convicted of aggravated malicious wounding which is a far more serious crime than an assault motivated by racial hatred," Benjamin said. "It carries a stiffer punishment and it it's easier to prove."

The Landeck brothers will be formally sentenced in December. Their attorneys have asked for a mistrial and plan to appeal.

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