Four face hate crime trial
September 13, 2011
Burning a cross in the front yard of an Arroyo Grande family has earned a trial for four people accused of a hate crime, Superior Court Judge Jacquelyn Duffy ruled Monday.
Duffy ruled Monday there was enough evidence to try 36-year-old Jason Kahn, 32-year-old Jeremiah Hernandez, 24-year-old Sara Matheny and 20-year-old William Soto.
The quartet is accused of torching the cross shortly after midnight March 18 at the home of an African-American teens bedroom window.
According to previous CalCoastNews reports, the defendants have claimed the cross burning was part of a memorial, marking the site where Kahn’s father died. They originally attempted to place the cross into a hole they dug in the front of the Elm Street house.
When that attempt failed because of low hanging tree branches, they dragged the heavy cross to the side of the house and placed it directly in front of the black teen’s bedroom.
Testimony during a one-day hearing suggested the cross was 11 feet high and 6 feet wide. The cross was stolen from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Arroyo Grande where it was bolted down in the church parking lot.
The suspects will be back in Duffy’s court Sept. 28 for arraignment proceedings.