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Hate charges stand in cross-burning trial 

A San Luis Obispo County Superior Court judge let stand hate crime charges against four defendants accused of burning a cross outside of a black woman’s Arroyo Grande home.

Defense lawyers argued the hate crime allegations should be dropped because, in this case, the cross burning was symbolic speech. The cross was burned March 18 at the site where the father of one of the defendants was killed by a sheriff’s deputy 17 years before.

Jeremiah Hernandez, Jason Kahn, Sara Matheny, and William Soto face arson, conspiracy, and hate crime charges.

Superior Court Judge Jacquelyn Duffy rejected the defense motion, saying First Amendment protections didn’t apply in this case. The next court hearing is scheduled for Nov. 2.

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