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LOCAL : County Man Guilty of Cross Burning

A former tattoo artist was convicted in Santa Ana federal court today of burning a cross outside a black family’s Westminster home last summer.

Gary A. Skillman, 24, of Westminster faces 1 to 21 years in prison and $600,000 in fines when he is sentenced March 3.

Skillman was convicted on all criminal charges against him, including conspiring to violate another person’s civil rights, using force and threat of force to intimidate the family because of race and using fire in the commission of a felony. He had maintained that he was only a bystander to the racially motivated crime outside Alvin and Lillie Heisser’s home at 6122 Shawnee Road.

Skillman’s lawyer had acknowledged that his client was present when the cross was built and set afire before dawn on July 28 but said a friend of Skillman’s was responsible. Prosecutors and assistant public defender Dean Steward said they cannot find the friend.

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Earlier story, Part II, Page 1.


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