One of two brothers found guilty of burning a cross on an interracial couple’s lawn last February was sentenced to six months in prison yesterday.
But 21-year-old Nathan Rehberg of Avondale will spend only two more months in the Central Nova Correctional Facility in Burnside, thanks to credit for time already served.
“(Rehberg’s) offence was not part of any organized or even repeated individual hate campaign ... It was racially motivated, but it was not part of a broader community racial initiative,” Supreme Court Justice John Murphy said in rendering his decision yesterday in Kentville. “I think it’s fair to say it was an isolated incident.”
Rehberg, along with his younger brother, Justin, burned a two-metre cross on the lawn of Shayne Howe, who is black, and Michelle Lyon, who is white, on Feb. 21. Lyon is a distant cousin of the Rehbergs.
Howe and Lyon awoke that morning to a cross burning on their lawn and shouts of “die, n-----, die.”
Justin Rehberg testified that it was an attempt at vengeance for allegedly spreading rumours about the two men.
Murphy sentenced Rehberg to six months in prison for harassment, and four months for inciting hatred. The sentences are to be served concurrently, and Murphy granted Rehberg four months’ credit for the two months he served in custody before he was released on bail.
“This court, and any court in this country, has to indicate that a crime of this nature ... will not be tolerated in our society,” the judge told the court.
“Mr. Rehberg has to learn of the significance of the impact on the victims and on society in general.”
Justin Rehberg said he “screwed up” prior to being sentenced to two months in jail for his part in burning a two-metre cross on the lawn of an interracial couple near Windsor last year.
Provincial court Judge Claudine MacDonald sentenced Rehberg, 20, to two concurrent two-month sentences for criminal harassment and inciting hatred. He also faces 30 months of probation upon the completion of his jail time, and must abstain from the consumption of alcohol or drugs during that time.
“I wish to say I am sorry. I screwed up,” Rehberg told the court yesterday.
“And it won’t happen again.”
The sentence is similar to that of Nathan Rehberg, Justin’s older brother, who was given six months in jail for the act on Monday.
Because the 21-year-old Nathan was granted double credit for time spent in custody prior to his sentencing, he only needs to serve two months of the sentence.
Crown attorney Darrell Carmichael said he would have preferred harsher sentences for both brothers. But he said he hopes the precedent established in what is believed to be Canada’s first hate-crime trial for cross-burning will not have to be used in the future.
I remembered seeing this story posted here so I thought I'd post a follow-up now that the sentencing is over.