A Georgia couple who rode with a Confederate flag-waving group as they made armed threats against African-Americans at a child’s birthday party were sentenced to prison Monday.
WLS reports that Jose “Joe” Torres was sentenced to 20 years, with 13 years in prison Monday after a jury convicted him on three counts of aggravated assault, one count of making terroristic threats and one count of violating of Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.
His partner, Kayla Norton, was sentenced to 15 years for her role in the incident, with six years in prison. She was convicted on one count of making terroristic threats and one count of violation of the Street Gang Act.
“Many people tried to make the case about simply flying the Confederate Battle Flag,” Douglas County District Attorney Brian Fortner said in a statement. “This case was about a group of people riding around our community, drinking alcohol, harassing and intimidating our citizens because of the color of their skin.”
An African-American family was enjoying a birthday party on July 25, 2015, when Torres, Norton and a group of about a dozen others in a convoy of pickup trucks waving large Confederate flags passed the victim’s residents and yelled racial slurs.
Prosecutors say the drivers parked their vehicles near the house and Torres was part of a smaller group that “threatened to kill the party goers while repeatedly using derogatory racial slurs against them.”
Norton apologized for her role in the incident saying, “I want you all to know that is not me. That is not me, that is not him. I would never walk up to you and say those words to you. I’m so sorry that happened to you. I am so sorry.”
Torres and Norton are both banished from Douglas County once they’re released from prison.
They committed the hateful act with a group known as Respect the Flag. Originally, fifteen members were indicted, but the disposition of all their cases remains unknown. According to the district attorney, some of them pleaded guilty to similar charges and received shorter sentences.