Men sentenced under hate crime law
3 men sentenced for Houston attack in 1st Texas case prosecuted under federal hate crime law
Three white men convicted of attacking a black man at a Houston bus stop last summer have received prison sentences ranging from 2 1/2 years to more than six years in the first Texas case to fall under a federal hate crime law.
The longest sentence ordered Monday by a federal judge was a 77-month term for 33-year-old Brian Kerstetter. Charles Cannon received a 37-month sentence, and Michael McLaughlin was sentenced to 30 months.
The 41-year-old McLaughlin and Kerstetter apologized in court. An attorney for the 26-year-old Cannon said his client was sorry.
Prosecutors said the men were walking around with their shirts off, displaying white supremacist tattoos, on Aug. 13, when they punched and kicked a 29-year-old black man waiting for a bus in downtown Houston. At least one of the men used racial slurs during the attack, investigators said.
"I want to apologize for my behavior and responsibilities," McLaughlin said. "My tattoos I got when I was 19 years old in prison, I regret a lot of them. I understand what they project. At 19 in prison, I needed to project an image. I'm not a card-carrying white supremacist. What I did in prison was for survival."
"I apologize to (the victim)," Kerstetter said. "I did not assault him because of his race. I broke up the fight. I am not a hater. The only thing I hate in this world is the Dallas Cowboys. That night I was sober. I hope I am judged for that I did that night. I've done a lot of bad things -- served six yard years in prison. These tattoos I got in prison, they mean nothing to the outside world."
A jury found the men guilty in April.
All three men faced up to 10 years in prison under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was enacted in October 2009.
Copyright 2012 by Click2Houston.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.