Hair, Beard Cutting: Hate Crime or Power Struggle?

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

CLEVELAND — Closing arguments concluded on Wednesday from both the prosecutors and 16 defense attorneys in the religious hate crimes trial of Amish leader Sam Mullet and his followers.

According to federal prosecutors, Mullet personally oversaw three planned attacks on nine different people. 

The individuals named in the 10-count indictment are accused of cutting the hair and beards after forcibly restraining people. 

According to the Amish faith, the head hair and beards are considered sacred religious symbols on men and women.

The prosecution argued on Wednesday that Mullet and his followers purposely invaded the homes of their victims and that they laughed and joked about the attacks, even taking pictures.

Then one defense attorney argued that the attacks were based on a power struggle between the Amish community, not based on religion.

Another defense attorney stated that the attacks were personal in nature between various families.

If convicted, Mullet and some of the others face life in prison if the finding of guilt includes a kidnapping charge, according to Mike Tobin, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The jury was expected to begin deliberating on Thursday morning.

(Fox 8 News Reporter Mark Zinni contributed to this report.)