Man pleads guilty in firebombing of interracial couples' home

Release via US Department of Justice:

GaryDodson, 32, of Waldron, Ark., pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court inLittle Rock, Ark., to one count of civil rights conspiracy, one count ofinterference with housing rights due to race and one count of possession of anunregistered firearm/destructive device for his involvement in the Jan. 14,2011, racially motivated firebombing of the home of an interracial couple inHardy, Ark.

Dodson,along with Jason Barnwell, 37, of Evening Shade, Ark.; Jake Murphy, 19, ofWaldron; Dustin Hammond, 20, of Hardy, Ark.; and Wendy Treybig, 31, of EveningShade, were indicted in April by a federal grand jury on civil rights chargesand other federal charges stemming from their participation in the raciallymotivated firebombing and their attempts to obstruct a federal investigation.

Duringthe plea proceedings, Dodson admitted that on the night of Jan. 14, 2011, whileat a party at Barnwell's house in Evening Shade, he, Murphy, Hammond andBarnwell devised a plan to firebomb the victims' house. Dodson then drove allfour men from Barnwell's residence to the victims' house in Hardy. When theyarrived, Barnwell, Murphy and Hammond constructed three Molotov cocktails andthrew them at the house. They damaged the victims' house, however, the victimswere not injured.

"Thevictims' home was attacked and their safety threatened because of their race.Such violence and intimidation has no place in our society," said Thomas E.Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The JusticeDepartment will continue to vigorously prosecute individuals who commit suchatrocious acts of hate."

"Today'splea begins the final chapter in a terrible story begun less than a year ago onthe night of Jan. 14, 2011, in a small Northeast Arkansas community," saidChristopher R. Thyer, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. "Racially motivated violence, more than any other type, tears at the veryfabric of what makes America and Arkansas great. We should be celebratingour diversity rather than committing acts of violence because of it. Whenit occurs, my office will vigorously prosecute it."

Dodson faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. Sentencing has been set forApril 20, 2012. Barnwell, Murphy, Hammond and Treybig have already pleadedguilty for their involvement in this matter.

Thiscase was investigated by the Little Rock Office of the FBI and the Little RockOffice of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, withassistance from the Arkansas State Police, the Hardy and Waldron PoliceDepartments, and the Scott and Sharp County Sheriff's Offices. It isbeing prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Ray White of the EasternDistrict of Arkansas, and Trial Attorneys Cindy Chung and Henry Leventis of theU.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.

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