A Georgia couple is facing a total of 28 years in prison after committing a hate crime at a young boy’s birthday party.
Kayla Rae Norton, 25, and Jose Ismael Torres, 26, drove past a Douglasville family’s home with a caravan of trucks waving confederate flags, the Daily Mail reported.
The family was celebrating a boy’s eighth birthday with a party. The couple, both of whom are members of a group called “Respect the Flag,” antagonized the family as they drove past. They shouted that they would “kill y’all n*ggers” at adults and children.
The couple terrorized a nearby Wal-Mart and convenience store shortly after.
Superior Court Judge William McClain sentenced Torres to 20 years, with 13 served in prison. Norton was sentenced to 15 years with six to serve in prison, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“I do accept responsibility for what I’ve done,” Norton told the court as she shed tears. She then addressed the victims: “What happened to you is absolutely awful.”
“From mother to mother, I cannot imagine having to explain what that word means,” added Norton, who has three children. “The worst decision I’ve ever made in my life was to not walk away when I had the chance.”
Torres only cried when family members took the stand and described him as a devoted father, hardworking plumber and volunteer football coach.
Hyesha Bryant, who attended the party, told the couple that she forgave them and that “life is too short for hate.”
“I never thought this would be something I’d have to endure in 2017,” Bryant added. “As adults and parents, we have to instill in our children the values of right and wrong. That moment you had to choose to leave, you stayed.”
Judge McClain reminded the couple that their actions came less than a month after the tragic and fatal Charleston shooting of nine black men and women at a historic church by Dylann Roof.
Roof has recently been given the death penalty, CNN reported.