ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KOB/NBC) - Two New Mexico men are now taking full responsibility for branding a mentally challenged Navajo man with a swastika.
The men pleaded guilty Thursday to federal charges. A third man in the case awaits sentencing.
The U.S. Justice Department says the three men in this case were the first to be charged with a federal hate crime.
The men branded a mentally disabled man with a swastika, shaved a swastika on his head and drew on his body - all the while recording the whole thing.
The crime happened a little more than a year ago.
The victim, a 22-year-old developmentally disabled Navajo man, asked after court, "Why, why would they, why would they hurt me?"
Paul Beebe, 28, and Jesse Sanford, 26, pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges.
William Hatch, 29, pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to commit a federal hate crime.
"Just when you think you have seen it all as a persecutor along comes a case that absolutely shocks the conscience," said U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez. "What they did was far worse, branding a swastika, they defaced his body, they branded him with the most obvious symbols of hate."
Thirteen years ago Perez helped draft the Shepard/Byrd Hate Crime act that was used in this case.
During a press conference Thursday he explained that there are 80 hate crime cases in the U.S. right now.
"We are here today to deliver a clear and unequivocal message. We will throw the book at you," Perez said.
In the plea deal, Beebe got 8 1/2 years in prison, and Sanford as many as five.
Hatch is expected to get 18 months at his hearing in September.
The victim's mother said she still can't get over what happened to her son and wishes the men had received more years in prison.
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