7th Circuit affirms cross burner's convictions

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found sufficient evidence to uphold a Muncie man's convictions stemming from his burning of a cross in front of the home of a family with biracial children.

Kyle Milbourn was sentenced to 121 months in prison for convictions of interfering with housing rights of another person, intimidation, using fire to commit a felony, and witness tampering. Milbourn and Kyle Shroyer decided after an evening of drinking to build and burn a cross in the front yard of Paula Tracy and Phillip Thrash's home in March 2006. Paula's three children from a previous relationship, who are biracial, lived there along with their African-American grandfather. Shroyer was dating Tracy's half-sister at the time, whom he later married. The two even took pictures of the burning and told others what they had done.

In United States of America v. Kyle Milbourn, No. 08-2525, Milbourn appealed because he claimed there was insufficient evidence to support the finding he was motivated by the racial makeup of the people who lived in the home and that the cross was burned to intimidate or interfere with their right to live there.

In addition to the photographs and statements made by Milbourn, the jury could have deduced he knew biracial children lived there because Shroyer was dating Tracy's half-sister, wrote Judge Terence Evans. Also, several witnesses said they heard Milbourn make racist comments about blacks and that he said it would be cool to join the Ku Klux Klan.

"And the frosting on the cake was that he picked, of all things, a cross to burn," he wrote. "And not just any cross, but one he and Shroyer constructed, crudely to be sure, in a shed near the trailer where they had been drinking and dancing."

The government presented evidence of the family's feelings of fear and anger after the cross burning and that they sought counseling for their oldest child, who had witnessed the event. The family even moved out of the home because of the incident.

The Circuit judges also found the prosecutor's comments during closing arguments on how Milbourn aspired to join the KKK didn't result in prosecutorial misconduct. A witness had testified that Milbourn had said he thought about joining the KKK.

Milbourn also waived his argument that the District judge should have disregarded the statutorily required mandatory minimum 10-year-sentence for the use of fire in commission of a felony.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.