Amish petition for bail after beard-cutting hate crimes verdict

CLEVELAND — A federal judge has given defense attorneys until Thursday (Sept. 27) to convince him that nine Amish defendants … Continued

CLEVELAND — A federal judge has given defense attorneys until Thursday (Sept. 27) to convince him that nine Amish defendants convicted of hate crimes should not be imprisoned until their sentencing Jan. 24.

In a motion filed Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bridget Brennan told U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster that because the three men and six women were convicted of crimes of violence, and could face many years in prison, the judge is compelled to detain them.

The only exception, she said, would be if there is a likelihood the judge would acquit the defendants or grant them a new trial. The judge also must determine that the defendants are not a risk to flee if allowed to remain out of jail, she wrote.

The nine are members of an Amish splinter sect in Jefferson County, Ohio. On Sept. 20, a jury convicted them — and seven other members of their community — in connection with beard- and hair-cutting attacks on members of neighboring Amish communities last fall.

The seven other defendants, including their leader, bishop Samuel Mullet, have been kept behind bars for the last eight months.

Two of the nine defendants, Lester and Elizabeth Miller, are married and have 11 children who would require care if the couple are jailed, posing an extreme hardship, according to defense lawyers. Two others, Emanuel and Linda Shrock, have 10 children being looked after by two of their older children.

All together, the nine defendants have a total of 49 children in their homes.

Samuel Mullet, 66, is the social and spiritual leader of the Bergholz sect. He was convicted of ordering five shearing attacks, though he did not participate in the raids. His followers were found guilty of carrying out the attacks.

(James McCarty writes for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland.)

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