Friday 18 August 2017

Couple who stormed black child's birthday party with gun and Confederate flags cry as they are jailed

Pair shouted racial slurs, threaten to kill partygoers - including children - waved Confederate flags and even pointed a shotgun, court heard

Torres and Norton, who have three children together, have both been given lengthy jail terms (Picture: Police handout)
Torres and Norton, who have three children together, have both been given lengthy jail terms (Picture: Police handout)

Chloe Farand

A couple were sentenced to 35 years in prison between them for storming the birthday party of an eight-year-old black boy and racially abusing the guests while waving Confederate flags.

Jose Ismael Torres, 26, was sentenced to 20 years in prison and will serve 13, and Kayla Rae Norton, 25, received 15 years, serving six.

Torres and Norton, from the state of Georgia, were found guilty of shouting racial slurs and threatening to kill partygoers, including the children, while waving Confederate flags.

Prosecutors told the court Torres even pointed a shotgun at the party.

The pair were convicted under a street gang terrorism law for the abuse, which took place in 2015 in Douglassville, outside Atlanta.

Video footage from the party emerged less than a month after white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine African-Americans at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Pictures showed Roof brandishing the Confederate flag. He said he wanted to kill black people and start a race war and was sentenced to death.

The video shows a parade of truck with Confederate flags roaring past the party. One woman is heard saying: “This is a child’s birthday party”.

One person is heard shouting the N-word and witnesses from the party repeat that another one “has a gun”.

The couple are the last of 15 people charged in the disruption of the eight-year-old's birthday.

Only four were charged with felonies but the other two pleaded guilty and are serving shorter prison terms.

Torres was sentenced on three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count of terroristic threats and one count of violating the street gang act.

Norton was sentenced on one count of violating Georgia's street gang act and one count of making terroristic threats.

The couple cried in court when the sentencing was announced in Douglas County, west of Atlanta.

Upon their release, the judge ordered the couple to be permanently banned from Douglas County.

"Their actions were motivated by racial hatred," said Superior Court Judge William McClain.

"This is behaviour that even supporters of the Confederate battle flag can agree is criminal and shouldn't be allowed," Douglas County District Attorney Brian Fortner said in a statement.

Independent News Service

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