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Guilty Plea Over Mich. Hate Crime

December 7, 1999

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) _ A white man accused of using his car to drag a black man across a parking lot pleaded guilty to a hate crime and an assault charge that could put him in prison for life.

Charles Joe Raab, 31, pleaded guilty Friday to charges of ethnic intimidation and assault with intent to cause great bodily harm. The case had been scheduled to go to trial this week.

Because of a prior record that includes robbery and larceny, Raab could face life behind bars at his sentencing next month.

Raab was initially charged with assault with intent to kill and felonious ethnic intimidation. But after interviewing witnesses, prosecutors said they didn’t believe Raab was trying to kill Willie Lee Jarrett, so they reduced the charges.

Patti Caudill, a member of the West Michigan Alliance Against Hate Crimes, said she was pleased that prosecutors took the hate crime charge seriously.

Jarrett was run over three times and dragged 80 feet across a gas station parking lot on Sept. 16. Half of one ear was torn off, and he suffered wounds to his back, hands, chest and shoulder.

At the time, Raab told investigators he caught Jarrett breaking into his car and beat him, then accidentally struck Jarrett with his car when he tried to leave.

At a preliminary hearing, a witness testified Raab used a racial slur to describe Jarrett during the assault.

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