Metro Man Sentenced for Role in Racially-Motivated Vandalism, Arson
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A metro man will spend the next three-and-a-half years in federal prison for his role in the racially-motivated vandalism and arson of a bi-racial man’s Independence home, prosecutors announced on Tuesday.
Charles Wilhelm, 23, was sentenced to 42 months in prison in a federal court on Tuesday after earlier pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of violating the Fair Housing Act in the June 2006 attack on the Independence home of Nathaniel Reed.
Wilhelm’s co-conspirators, Teresa Witthar and David Martin, pleaded guilty on Feb. 2, 2012, and March 7, 2012, respectively, for their roles in the arson.
According to court documents, Wilhelm, Witthar and Martin conspired to intimidate and scare Reed, a bi-racial man, into moving out of the Highland Manor Mobile Home Park in Independence, in part because of his race.
Prosecutors say that on June 6, 2006, Wilhelm, along with Witthar and Martin, entered Reed’s home, without his permission, and vandalized it by writing at least 15 racially derogatory slurs on the walls of his trailer.
Two days later, prosecutors say that Witthar drove Wilhelm and Martin to a neighborhood behind Reed’s home so that they could set fire to it without being detected. Witthar waited in her vehicle for Wilhelm and Martin to set the fire and then provided them a ride back to the Highland Manor Mobile Home Park.
“This defendant violated another person’s civil rights and endangered the safety of many nearby residents,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri David M. Ketchmark in a statement. “Today’s sentence makes an important statement that race-based crime carries serious punishment. Racially-motivated attacks are offensive to our community and will not be tolerated by our justice system. “
Witthar was sentenced to 63 months in prison on June 18, 2012. Sentencing for Martin is scheduled for Aug. 2, 2012.