- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 4, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A defense attorney for one of two men charged with committing a federal hate crime told jurors Tuesday that the fight that led to the charge was simply a barroom brawl, not a racially motivated attack.

The trial of Beau E. Hansen and Jonathan L. Henery began in Idaho’s U.S. District Court this week. Prosecutors say the two men, who are both white, yelled racial slurs while they assaulted a black man at a Boise strip club.

Attorneys for both men concede that their clients might be guilty of battery, but nothing more, the Idaho Statesman reported (http://bit.ly/1DyLn8T ).

“This is a bar fight. It’s not a hate crime,” Thomas Dominick, the attorney for Henery, said in opening statements.

Mark Ackley, who represents Hansen, also denied that race played any role, telling jurors that Derrick Lewis provoked the fight by saying something degrading to Henery’s sister.

“It was a free-for-all. It was a barroom brawl,” Ackley said.

Lewis, now 46, said he still suffers from eye trouble from injuries he suffered in the Oct. 20, 2013 attack. He told jurors that he was just looking for a lost piece of his cellphone headset when he walked past Hansen and Henery inside the club. As he passed the group, Hansen looked his way, Lewis said.

“He turned and looked at me, and immediately the smile left his face and was replaced by a grimace,” Lewis said. “He launched himself off the couch like there was an emergency.”

If convicted, the men face up to 10 years in prison. The trial is expected to last two weeks.

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Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com

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