3 Convicted Felons Face Charges in Hate Crime

Published 03/08 2012 06:08PM

Updated 03/08 2012 06:29PM

ALTAMONT -- Three Effingham County men are behind bars, accused of a hate crime.

Police say they beat up a black man at a Tip's Corner Tavern in Altamont. Bond for 36-year old William Coleman, of Watson, and 41-year old Kevin Gasper, of Effingham, is set at $150,000 each. Bond for 36-year old Justin Antrim, of Teutopolis, is $100,000.

 The fight started when the victim, Trenton Smith, walked into the bar. Coleman made a racial comment. The power went out moments later, and that's when Coleman started punching the victim in the face and head. The three men followed the victim outside. According to court documents, they hit and kicked him some more before finally running off.

State's attorney Ed Deters says all three are charged with aggravated battery, mob action, and hate crime. Aggravated battery is a class three felony that's punishable by two to five years in prison. The other two charges are class four felonies, punishable by one to three years in prison.

The three also have extensive criminal histories. Some convictions include driving while intoxicated, battery, theft, and several drug charges. If convicted, they could face a stiffer sentence.

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