An 8-year-old’s birthday party was interrupted by an unsolicited parade of hatred, which has resulted in a hefty sentence for one Georgia couple:
- Kayla Rae Norton,
- Jose Ismael Torres.
The couple’s unprovoked act of cruelty, fueled by racism, ended up having some major repercussions for both Norton and Torres.
The two white supremacists broke down during their court testimony and apologized for their hate crime.
In July 2015, an 8-year-old’s birthday party celebration in Douglasville, Georgia became a target for malice as a group of 15 people drove past the house waving Confederate flags and shouting racial slurs.
Several flag-adorned trucks paraded past the boy’s house as well as harassing locals at a nearby Walmart and convenience store. The event took place less than a month after white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine African-Americans at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.
The couple, 25-year-old Kayla Rae Norton and 26-year-old Jose Ismael Torres, were members of a group called “Respect the Flag.” Norton and Torres were among four people in the group who were charged with felonies.
Not only did the group of white supremacists taunt the party-goers with Confederate flags and racial slurs, they also reportedly threatened to kill the innocent attendees. According to prosecutors, at one point Torres aimed a shotgun at the child’s birthday celebration.
As a consequence for their hate crime, Norton and Torres were handed a 35-year sentence by Superior Court Judge William McClain and are both banished from Douglas County upon release.
Prior to handing down the sentences, McClain stated, “Many good people in Paulding County saw you for what you are. Everywhere you went, 911 call centers were flooded with calls.”
According to AJC, Norton was given 15 years with six to be served behind bars and Torres received 20 years with 13 to be served in prison.
“This is behavior that even supporters of the Confederate battle flag can agree is criminal and shouldn’t be allowed,” Douglas County District Attorney Brian Fortner said of the hate crime in a statement.
Through tears, Norton apologized to the victims in the courtroom, saying, “I do accept responsibility for what I’ve done … The worst decision I’ve ever made in my life was to not walk away when I had the chance.”
While Norton was the only one to address the court during the proceedings, Torres was visibly remorseful and cried when his family members took the stand.
Hyesha Bryant, an attendee at the birthday party, stated, “I never thought this would be something I’d have to endure in 2017. As adults and parents, we have to instill in our children the values of right and wrong.”
However, Bryant showed her true spirit by telling the couple, “I forgive all of you. I don’t have hate in my heart. Life is too short for that.”