I-Team: Assault on brothers investigated as an alleged hate crime

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CARBON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — New details are emerging Tuesday night in the police investigation into an alleged hate crime in Carbon County. Two brothers say they were brutally assaulted over the weekend because of the color of their skin.

They say they heard one of the attackers say they were looking for the “black kid from Allentown”. The latest on the police investigation Eyewitness News spoke with legal experts about what prosecutors have to do to prove that this was indeed a hate crime.

“I heard people say that some guys were looking for the black kid from Allentown,” assault victim Jayvon McDowell said.

Moments later, 15-year-old Jayvon McDowell and his 20-year-old brother Andre, were assaulted. Andre suffered a broken jaw and other injuries. Jayvon was thrown into a fire pit and suffered third-degree burns. The assault took place Saturday night at a party at a property near Lehighton.

The McDowells say six white men crashed the party and one or more assaulted them. The I-Team has now confirmed from sources close to the investigation that video was taken at that party and police are now reviewing that video.

Partygoers are also being interviewed by detectives, but the question remains: is this a hate crime? Eyewitness News spoke to Tom Marsilio, a former state and county prosecutor. He says the charge of ethnic intimidation would be the appropriate charge here. It would enhance, make the penalties more severe for the other charges such as assault.

“There has to be specific intent of that individual to show hatred or animosity toward a particular class of people,” Marsilio said.

Marsilio says that language used by the perpetrators may not in itself lead to hate crime charges.

“If someone in this particular case is looking for the black kid from Allentown that doesn’t necessarily imply any hatred toward a person of color,” Marsilio said.

Barry Dyller specializes in civil rights cases. He says words have meaning for sure, but the intent is also vital in the big picture.

“So identifying the race or other groups alone with nothing more could very well be just identification and not hate. So all of the other surrounding circumstances would be important to know,” Dyller said.

Eyewitness is told it’s those circumstances that the Mahoning Township Police are right looking at. Again, the actual charge the suspects face is ethnic intimidation. It would increase the penalties for other charges filed in the case. The Carbon County District Attorney Jena Engler will have the final say as to whether this is a hate crime.

The McDowell brothers are undergoing treatment for their injuries. Andre was released from the hospital Monday and is recovering at home.

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