Jury finds man guilty in US swastika branding case

Aztec, New Mexico (AP) May 2011

The first of three defendants accused of branding a swastika into the arm of a mentally disabled American Indian man has been convicted on one count.

A New Mexico jury found William Hatch guilty of conspiracy to commit aggravated battery.

Jurors acquitted the 29-year-old of more serious charges, including kidnapping and aggravated battery causing great bodily harm.

Hatch and two others are accused of branding 22-year-old Navajo man Vincent Kee, shaving the back of his head with a swastika symbol and using a marker to scribe obscenities on his backside in April 2010.

HatchÂ’s co-defendants face trials later.

All three also face federal charges as the first in the nation to be charged under a 2009 law that makes it easier for the federal government to prosecute people for hate crimes.