BOISE -- Two Boise men are facing federal hate crime charges after an attack on an African-American man last year. While these charges are a first of their kind in Idaho, prosecutors say it's about more than the charges, it's about the message they send.
A federal grand jury indicted 28-year-old Jonathan Lynn Henery and 30-year-old Beau Edward Hansen, both of Boise, on federal hate crime charges.
U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson made the announcement Wednesday. "Any one hate-motivated crime is too many, and that's why this demands the kind of response you see here."
The indictment says on October 20th of last year, both men severely beat an African-American man outside the Torch 2 in Boise, because of his race.
Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson was also at the announcement. "We have an individual who was targeted because of his race and he was severely beaten."
Responding Boise Police officers immediately saw what they believed to be a hate crime and got the FBI and US Department of Justice involved. After months of work, the charges were filed.
The last time someone in Idaho was federally charged with a hate crime was back in 2009 when an African-American man was beaten outside a Walmart in Nampa. The current statute has a broader definition of hate crime, allows more crimes to be prosecuted as hate crimes, and was enacted shortly after the 2009 crime in Nampa.
Prosecutors and police say, though, it's not just about this crime and these charges, but about sending a message.
"Hate crimes are intended to send a broader message of violent intolerance toward a class of persons," said Olson. "While all assaults merit serious and considerate response and attention from law enforcement, recognition of hate-motivated assaults the accompanying investigation to uncover the motive are necessary to show that intolerance has no such place in our community."
"This is a message that is sent back to our community, not only holding these individuals accountable for their actions, but saying that, 'We will not tolerate intolerance,'" said Masterson.
If the two suspects are found guilty, they could serve up to 10 years in prison, pay a fine of up to $250,000, and face up to 3 years of supervised release.
Their first court date has not been set. But Olson expects that to happen soon. A trial date will be set at that appearance.