CLEVELAND (AP) — Jurors are now deciding the fate of 16 people accused of hate crimes in hair- and beard-cutting attacks against fellow Amish in Ohio.
Deliberations began Thursday morning in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.
The members of a breakaway Amish settlement are accused of hate crimes in what federal prosecutors say were attacks motivated by religious differences. They say the defendants cut off Amish men’s beards and women’s hair because the hair carries spiritual significance in their faith.
Defense attorneys acknowledge that the hair-cuttings took place and that crimes were committed but contend that prosecutors are overreaching by calling them hate crimes. They told jurors to use common sense in deciding the verdict.
All the defendants could face lengthy prison terms if convicted.
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