Skinhead Gang Member Sentenced in Hate Crimes
A onetime member of the Nazi Low Riders gang was sentenced Monday to three years in federal prison for hate crimes in attacks on two African Americans in Lancaster.
Eric Dillard, now 18, apologized for his actions, which included the beating and stabbing of a black teenager out for a walk more than three years ago.
At the sentencing by Chief U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr., Dillard’s lawyer portrayed her client as a battered boy desperate for a surrogate family when he fell in with the skinhead group.
“Every single man in his life had beaten him,” public defender Mary Kelly said. She asked the judge to sentence Dillard to a long period of supervised probation and require him to tell his story to other young people.
“He’s somebody who can be salvaged,” she said. “He’s not a hard-core racist.”
A probation report prepared after Dillard pleaded guilty last year recommended 6 1/2 years behind bars. Assistant U.S. Atty. Caroline Witcoff argued Monday that a stiff sentence was warranted, despite Dillard’s youth, because of the severity of the attacks.
Citing Dillard’s age and inexperience, Hatter sentenced him to three years in prison and three years of supervised release afterward. Dillard also was ordered to make $3,045 restitution.
“I hope you learn from this,” Hatter told Dillard. “You have an awesome responsibility to society to make up for what you did.”
Two others were convicted previously in the attacks. Danny Edward Williams, 25, who recruited Dillard into the skinhead group, is serving a 57-month federal prison term. The other defendant, who has not been identified because of his age, was tried as a juvenile.
In pleading guilty, Dillard admitted that on April 28, 1996, he and Williams cornered an African American man, Eric Miller, outside a video rental store on West Avenue L in Lancaster.
Dillard said he repeatedly punched Miller, while Williams swung a baseball at the victim, narrowly missing his head. All the while, the pair yelled racial epithets at Miller, who managed to retreat into the video store.
About two months later, Dillard, Williams and the juvenile accomplice carried out another racially motivated attack, Dillard admitted, assaulting a black teenager while yelling “white power.”