Third defendant pleads guilty in hate crime case

The last domino has fallen in a Marysville race-based hate crime being prosecuted in Sacramento federal court.

Anthony Merrell Tyler pleaded guilty Tuesday to his role in the ugly incident, following by three months the lead of his two co-defendants, Billy James Hammett and Perry Sylvester Jackson.

All three, each of whom has white supremacist tattoos, have now admitted their parts in a brutal, racially motivated attack on a white man and an African American woman.

According to court papers, including the defendants’ written plea agreements, the couple parked their car at a convenience store around 10:45 p.m. on April 18, 2011. The trio approached the car and, after calling the male victim a “(racial slur)-lover,” Jackson punched him twice in the head through an open passenger window. At the same time, Hammett opened the driver’s door and kicked the woman in the chest. A few seconds later, Tyler smashed the car’s windshield with a crowbar.

The woman managed to take refuge inside the convenience store, while all three assailants descended on the male victim and pummeled him in the store’s parking lot. At the end of the incident, Tyler referred to an African American witness with a racial slur.

The male victim sustained abrasions on his right forearm and knees, while the woman suffered bruising to her chest, according to an announcement Tuesday from the U.S. Department of Justice’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“These defendants attacked the victims simply because of race,” said Jocelyn Samuels, acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, in a prepared statement. “Such violence and intimidation have no place in our society. Where these acts occur, the department will continue to aggressively prosecute them.”

Hammett, 30, is scheduled to be sentenced March 25. Jackson, 28, has asked to be sentenced April 22. Tyler, 33, is scheduled for sentencing July 8.

Each defendant faces a statutory maximum 10 years in prison under the federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act.