Ex-firefighter gets year in prison for hanging Black doll to threaten neighbors
"It's reprehensible," Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Dana said during the sentencing hearing for Glenn Eugene Halfin. "It's disturbing."
In July, Glenn Eugene Halfin, 64, pleaded guilty to charges of a federal hate crime after terrorizing his neighbor Dante Petty, 28, his wife and their young daughter.
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According to court documents, on December 19th, Halfin bought a Black baby doll at Walmart and placed it in a noose, which he hung from a railing “directly in front of the only staircase the family could use to access their apartment.”
“Halfin did so, knowing that this display would be particularly intimidating for the family who had a young daughter,” court records say.
Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey L. Cureton sentenced the 64-year-old to the maximum punishment possible based on his guilty plea to the misdemeanor charge of interfering with an African-American family’s housing rights.
“It’s reprehensible,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Dana said during the hearing. “It’s disturbing.
Dana also explained that this wasn’t an isolated incident as Halfin had hung a doll on three different occasions near the victim’s apartment. She requested the maximum punishment allowable to send a strong message to the community and discourage anyone else who may feel inclined to do something similar.
Halfin who uses a walking-cane, spoke briefly to the judge, and apologized for his actions while his sister, father and in-laws sat in the courtroom.
Petty, the target of the hate crime, was not present during the sentencing and has not yet discussed his thoughts about the sentencing in the press.
Halfin’s attorney, Brook Antonio, explained to the judge that his client acted out of “anger and frustration,” due to an ongoing dispute with his neighbors.
According to Antonio, the neighbors, who lived in the apartment unit directly above Halfin, allegedly poured urine and feces over their balcony, onto his client’s porch and also stomped on their floor to spite him. So his decision to repeatedly hang a noose in front of their home was more so neighborly retaliation than a racially motivated attack.
“It’s not a situation where he’s a racist,” Antonio maintained. “This incident is not who he is.”
But the argument fell on deaf ears.
“The Justice Department will not tolerate acts of intimidation and fear, or illegal threats against any individual or family because of their race,” Acting Assistant Attorney John Gore, said after Halfin’s plea.
“We will continue to prosecute hate crime offenders.”