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Driver Is Charged With Hate Crime

DRIVER IS CHARGED WITH HATE CRIME ; BLACK WORKER HIT IN GOLF COMMUNITY
South Florida Sun - Sentinel; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; April 1, 2002; Jon Burstein Staff Writer;

Copyright 2002 by the Sun-Sentinel. "John Smith" is fictitious name used in this story; other than that this story is exactly as reported in the Sun-Sentinel.

The State Attorney's Office has charged a West Boynton Beach man with a hate crime, alleging he intentionally tried to run over a black man working in his neighborhood.

John Smith, 33, who is white, told a Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputy that he hit Link Crump with his BMW convertible last month because he "hates blacks and they should all die," according to police reports.

Smith faces a count of attempted first-degree murder with a deadly weapon evidencing prejudice and a second charge of leaving the scene of a crash involving injury. According to state law, the attempted first-degree murder charge could carry a life sentence if a jury finds Smith's actions were fueled by hate.

Franklin Prince, Smith's attorney, said Friday his client has a history of mental illness dating back a decade and has been repeatedly hospitalized for his psychological problems.

He is in the Palm Beach County Jail waiting to be evaluated by mental health experts, who will determine whether he is competent to stand trial, Prince said.

At the time of the Feb. 21 incident, Smith was living with his parents in the upscale Aberdeen Golf and Country Club.

Crump, 30, has said he and a friend, also black, were driving out of the neighborhood about 2 p.m. after detailing a car when they noticed Smith staring at them. Smith then reportedly drove his convertible alongside them.

Smith asked if they were trespassing and reached out to touch Crump's arm, police reports state. Crump said he knocked Smith's hand away. Smith drove off, made a quick U-turn and then sped toward Crump and his friend, who had both gotten out of their car, Crump said.

Sheriff's deputies said Smith plowed into Crump and sped off. Crump suffered cuts and bruises and was treated and released that day from Bethesda Memorial Hospital.

Deputies canvassed the neighborhood later that day, learning from Smith's parents that he had a BMW convertible. A deputy drove by the Smiths' home that night and saw the damaged convertible parked in the driveway, according to reports.

The next morning when deputies stopped by the Smiths' house, Smith's father told them that several days before the incident his son had said he always had trouble with blacks and he wanted to kill one.

When deputies interviewed Smith a few hours later, he said he had feared Crump and his friend because they were strangers, police reports state.

That's also when he commented he hated blacks, authorities said.

"[Smith] showed no concern or remorse about what he did and went to Lion Country Safari after the event," police reports state.

Jon Burstein can be reached at jburstein@sun-sentinel.com or 561- 832-2895.

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