Four Charged in 1987 Halloween Cross-Burning
ORMOND BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Four men who allegedly burned a cross on the lawn of their neighborhood’s only black family on Halloween 1987 have been indicted on charges of violating the victims’ civil rights.
A fifth man, Ellis Wayne Hull of Ormond Beach, pleaded guilty to one count of intimidation in Orlando federal court Tuesday and was released on his own recognizance. He faces a maximum one year in prison.
The Rev. Carl Brinkley, president of the Ormond Beach chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said he was ″jubilant″ at news of the arrests after the FBI’s yearlong investigation.
The men named in the indictment unsealed Monday were William Sanchez, Marvin ″Bubba″ Smith, Larry D. Tarpley, and Michael Merritt. They each face a maximum of 21 years in prison and $200,000 in fines on three civil rights counts.
Smith and Tarpley were released on bond Monday, and Merritt and Sanchez were scheduled for bond hearings Tuesday.
Sometime during the night of Halloween last year, a burning cross was left on the front lawn of Willie Daniels’ residence. At the time, his was the only black family on the street.
The four men were charged with conspiring to burn a wooden cross in front of Daniels’ home, ″thereby intimidating and interfering with the family’s right to hold and occupy a dwelling without injury, intimidation or interference because of race or color.″
They are also charged with aiding and abetting each other in the violation, and using fire in a conspiracy on the Daniels’ civil rights.
There have been no further incidents since the cross burning, other than ″smart remarks″ from children in the neighborhood, Daniels said Monday.