LITTLE ROCK — A Green Forest man’s 2011 conviction of federal hate crimes was upheld by a federal appeals panel Monday.
Frankie Maybee was found guilty last year in U.S. District Court in Harrison of running a car containing five Hispanic men off the road, causing it to catch fire. The victims were injured.
Prosecutors said the Hispanic men were targeted because of their race, color and national origin.
A federal jury convicted Maybee on five counts of committing a hate crime and one count of conspiring to commit a hate crime. He was sentenced to 11 years and three months in prison.
In his appeal, Maybee argued there was insufficient evidence in the case to convict him.
On Monday, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis unanimously affirmed the conviction.
The court noted witness testimony that Maybee directed racial epithets at the occupants of the sedan and continued to use those epithets while discussing his plans to assault them. After the vehicle was forced off the road and caught on fire, Maybee continued yelling racial epithets and said he hoped the occupants of the car would die, the court said.
"Based on this evidence, a reasonable jury could have concluded that the race or national origin of the occupants of the sedan was ‘a substantial motivating factor’ in Maybee’s decision to pursue the sedan and force it off the road," Judge Raymond Gruender wrote in the court’s opinion.
Sean Popejoy of Green Forest, who was a passenger in the vehicle driven by Maybee, later pleaded guilty to one count of committing a hate crime and one count of conspiracy. He was sentenced to two concurrent four-year prison terms. Popejoy testified against Maybee during the trial.