A federal grand jury in Seattle has indicted a 49-year-old man for committing a hate crime in connection with the attack on a Sikh man last year.
Jamie W. Larson appeared Tuesday before a U.S. magistrate judge after his arrest by the FBI, where he pleaded not guilty.
He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, according to the Department of Justice.
The single-page indictment does not provide details of the attack, nor did a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office. It alleges only that Larson assaulted the victim, identified as K.H., on Oct. 17 in Federal Way “based upon the victim’s actual or perceived race, color and national origin, which include Middle Eastern and Arab descent.”
However, state charges that were initially filed in the incident said Larson attacked his Sikh cab driver, beating him savagely and using racially charged language. The complaint says Larson pulled part of the man’s beard out, which was found by police on the ground.
Larson has a long history of arrests, including five convictions for drunk driving, and convictions for domestic-violence assault and disorderly conduct, according to the state charges.
The news release says Larson was arrested at the scene of the attack after a witness called 911.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division must sign off on hate-crime prosecutions, and an attorney from DOJ has been assigned to collaborate on Larson’s prosecution.
“Attacks such as this one, based on prejudice and racial hate, are contrary to who we are and violate the law,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “Protecting the civil rights of all the members of our community is a top priority for our office.”