7th Circuit affirms cross burner's convictions

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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.


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  1. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.