Hate crime defendants' sentences disappoint 

For being the first felons convicted of a hate crime in Georgia, Angelina Pisciotta and Chris Botts received eight-year prison sentences -- despite pleas by victims and prosecutors for sentences more than twice that.

Che Golden and his brother Idris, who were targeted for being black, were brutally beaten in Little Five Points in April 2001. They asked the judge to punish their attackers to the fullest extent. Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Holly Hughes recommended Pisciotta and Botts receive the maximum sentence of 20 years, of which 90 percent must be served under state law.

It's unusual, however, to serve a sentence of that length on an aggravated assault charge. In Georgia, the average defendant serving a life sentence for murder is paroled after 15 years.

What's more, there's no precedent for the length of hate crime sentences, seeing that the Little Five case is Georgia's first felony hate crime prosecution.

If convicted of a hate crime, a defendant faces up to five additional years; Botts and Pisciotta received two additional years for their hate crime convictions. A third defendant, Ulysses Andrade, was cleared of the hate crime charge but, like Pisciotta and Botts, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and criminal damage to property. Andrade received a four-year sentence on Oct. 23, the same day as Botts. Pisciotta was sentenced Oct. 27.

The average sentence for an aggravated assault in the two years since the state parole board ruled that 90 percent of such sentences must be served is 6.7 years.

District Attorney Paul Howard, unhappy with the sentences, has urged the U.S. Attorney's Office to file civil rights violation charges against the Little Five defendants.

"As to whether or not we're taking up the case," U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Patrick Crosby says, "the feds have no comment."

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