12-04-2016  4:29 pm      •     

SPOKANE—An 18-year-old Spokane man was arrested last week in connection with a July 15 cross burning in front of the apartment of a Black man in nearby Spirit Lake, Idaho.
Nicholas J. Schmitt and Michael R. Simmons, 23, allegedly burned a cross fashioned from Tiki torches in front of the man's apartment. The resident awoke to find the burned cross on the lawn of his apartment.
Arrest warrants were issued last month for Schmitt and Simmons, but Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas said authorities were not able to locate Simmons.
Douglas said both men likely will be charged with malicious harassment, which is a felony hate crime in Idaho and is punishable by up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Schmitt's attorney, Doug Phelps, said his client was preparing to turn himself in to Idaho authorities when he was arrested by Spokane County deputies.
"He's a young guy," Phelps said. "He was out doing some pretty heavy drinking. I think it was kind of a drunken prank where people weren't thinking clearly because alcohol may have consumed him."
— The Associated Press

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