A Lancaster man was sentenced in federal court in Los Angeles on Monday to nearly five years in prison for assaulting two African American men in separate attacks in 1996, a prosecutor said.
Danny Edward Williams, 24, a member of the Nazi Low Riders white supremacy gang, said in an earlier statement that he took part in the attacks to "rid the streets of Lancaster of African Americans."
Williams signed the statement last October when he pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges.
U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter Jr. sentenced Williams to 57 months in prison, giving Williams credit for more than a year of jail time he has already served. He also was ordered to pay about $500 in restitution to Marcus Cotton, who was hospitalized with stab wounds during one of the attacks, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Michael Gennaco.
"A strong message was sent by the court today that if you engage in hate crimes you are going to be dealt with severely," Gennaco said. "I hope that message goes out to future perpetrators of hate crimes."
Williams' attorney said his client could have been sent to prison for 10 years.
During his prison stay, Williams is expected to undergo treatment to curtail his drug habit, and psychological counseling to "make sure any feelings of racial animosity he might have are not acted upon," said Pasadena attorney Michael Mayock, who represented Williams.
Williams shouted racial slurs at Eric Miller of Los Angeles in April, 1996, as Miller left a Blockbuster Video store on West Avenue L in Lancaster. Williams swung a baseball bat at Miller and missed, but a juvenile accomplice then repeatedly beat Miller with his fists.
The pair then "drove away armed with the bat in search of African Americans on the streets of Lancaster to assault or intimidate," according to court documents.
Three months later, Williams and two juveniles drove up behind Cotton and his cousin, Angela McKinzie, both of Lancaster, as they walked down the street. Williams yelled "white power" and joined in the beating of Cotton, who also was stabbed in the back four times and left bleeding on the sidewalk.
Williams was arrested in the attacks in September 1996. He escaped four months later from a minimum-security drug treatment facility in Pasadena, but he was recaptured within weeks.
In exchange for Williams' plea, escape charges were not filed and conspiracy charges were dropped.
Miller, Cotton and McKinzie all testified at Williams' hearing Monday. McKinzie recounted how one of the boys called her a "black bitch" and spit at her. She said she still has nightmares about the incident, Gennaco said.
When handing down the sentence, Hatter took into consideration Williams' poor upbringing, marked by years of abuse and drug and alcohol use, Mayock said.
"This is not the kind of person who had much chance in life," Hatter said.
Mayock said his client is "a changed person" who intends to have his tattoos--a swastika on his left hand and a hooded Ku Klux Klan figure on his left shoulder--removed.