Appeals Court Overturns Softer Sentences In Cross-Burning Case

Associated Press/March 5, 2004

Richmond, Va. -- A North Carolina man convicted of burning a cross in an interracial couple's yard while holding a gun has lost a court battle.

A federal appeals court in Virginia is throwing out Robert Nelson May's probation and supervised release sentence.

The three-judge panel agrees with federal prosecutors. They say a lower court in North Carolina shouldn't have given May a probation with credit for time served.

The lower court must give May a new sentence.

The Supreme Court ruled last April that states may continue prosecuting cross-burners. The nation's highest court said the Ku Klux Klan's historical use of cross-burning demonstrates "that the possibility of injury or death is not just hypothetical."

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