Maumelle mom gets six months for hostile letter

Sending a racially hostile letter threatening the black family next door was the "biggest mistake" of her life, a weeping Maumelle woman told a Little Rock federal judge Wednesday, explaining her intentions were to protect her daughter.

"I was scared my little girl was going to be harmed," 43-year-old Shawn Simone Hardin told U.S. District Judge James Moody. "I was just looking out for my little girl. She's all I have and I overreacted."

Hardin pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor hate-crime charge of interference with housing because of race in September. Prosecutors dropped a related felony count of using the mail to send a threatening communication. Moody said his sentence, which includes six months of imprisonment, was the strictest recommended by federal guidelines for someone with no criminal history. Hardin could have been incarcerated for up to a year.

The charges stemmed from a Feb. 20 letter that Hardin, who is white, mailed to her new next-door neighbors, Cassandra and Edward Terry, complaining about the couple's 12-year-old son playing outside. Hardin claimed to be representing the whole neighborhood in the handwritten letter, describing the area as a "white" neighborhood and urging the Terrys not to act like "niggers," prosecutors have said.

For more information see today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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