A judge sentenced a Georgia man and woman Monday to a combined 35 years in jail after the couple terrorized African-American guests at a child’s birthday party with racial slurs and threats while riding in a truck with Confederate battle flags in 2015, reports The Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
Superior Court Judge William McClain castigated the two, Kayla Rae Norton, 25, and Jose Ismael Torres, 26, for perpetrating what he called a hate crime.
He sentenced Torres to 20 years, with 13 to serve in prison; Norton was given 15 years, with six to serve. Upon their release, McClain ordered them to be permanently banished from Douglas County. “Their actions were motivated by racial hatred,” said McClain. Assistant District Attorney David Emadi detailed how the group [Respect The Flag] had gone on a drunken, two-county rampage in pick-up trucked laden with Confederate battle flags through Paulding and Douglas counties over July 24 and July 25. Emadi said the group threatened African-American motorists, yelled at them and walked up to one of their cars with a gun
…Hyesha Bryant, 34, offered forgiveness to Norton and Torres. She had attended the party, an 8-year-old’s celebration complete with a jumpy castle and snow cone machine. She also reminded them of the choices they made over two days that ultimately led them to McClain’s packed Douglas County courtroom… “As adults and parents, we have to instill in our children the values of right and wrong [, Byrant said.] That moment you had to choose to leave, you stayed.” Then Bryant clutched her chest, leaned forward toward Torres and Norton and looked them in the eyes. “I forgive all of you,” she said. “I don’t have any hate in my heart. Life is too short for that.”
The horrible incident involving the pair, who were convicted earlier this month under a street gang terrorism law, happened a little more than a month after convicted mass-murderer Dylann Roof killed nine parishioners in the Emanuel AME massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, reports the New York Daily News.