Jurors will begin deciding fate of Amish accused of hate crimes
An Amish man waits for others to emerge from a taxi before entering the U.S. courthouse in Cleveland Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
Published Thursday, September 13, 2012 6:25AM EDT
CLEVELAND -- The jury is set to begin deciding the fate of 16 people accused in haircutting attacks against fellow Amish in Ohio.
The members of a breakaway Amish settlement are accused of hate crimes in what federal prosecutors say were attacks motivated by religious differences. They say the defendants cut off Amish men's beards and women's hair because the hair carries spiritual significance in their faith.
Defence attorneys acknowledge the hair cuttings took place and that crimes were committed but contend that prosecutors are overreaching by calling them hate crimes. They told jurors to use common sense in deciding the verdict.
All of the defendants could face lengthy prison terms if convicted.
Deliberations begin Thursday morning in Cleveland.