- Associated Press - Friday, February 13, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Two Springfield men are charged under Missouri’s hate crimes law, accused of threatening to kill a black woman and her four children at the family’s home.

Aaron Williams, 23, and Austin Pierce, 35, have been charged with attempted burglary and property damage motivated by discrimination after the confrontation at the home of Dewan Newsom last week, according to court documents.

Newsom told police the men banged on windows at her home last Friday, threatened to kill the family and shouted racial slurs. She said the men broke glass in the front door and left only after her 14-year-old son, who is large for his age, returned home and yelled at them, The Springfield News-Leader reported (https://sgfnow.co/1A4fh4F ).

“My children were basically pleading and begging for their lives, asking them to please stop,” Newsom said. “It is just scary to actually really have to deal with something like this.”

Newsom said she saw two white men in her front yard and asked them to leave, causing them to curse and yell racial slurs. After that, the men began banging on the front door and yelled “We’ll kill you,” and “Come outside and get hurt,” according to a probable cause statement.

Newsom said her 14-year-old son, Dearies Hempstead, returned from a trip to the store and confronted the men.

“He is a lifesaver,” Newsom said. “He came back from the store just in the nick of time. The guys saw how tall he was and they kind of fled the scene.”

Williams, who has a swastika tattoo, later told police he was intoxicated and didn’t remember what he said but acknowledged he probably used racial slurs, according to the court statement. Pierce, who has “White” and “Pride” tattoos told police he realized he was making a mistake and told Williams they should leave, according to the statement. Both men denied trying to force their way into the home.

Williams and Pierce are being held in Greene County Jail on $25,000 bond. Online court records do not indicate if they have attorneys.

The case is being tried under a Missouri law that allows some misdemeanors to be prosecuted as felonies when the crimes are hate crimes motivated by race.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com

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