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FBI investigating Brown County hatchet attack as hate crime

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Update (April 11, 2016) – During Ericson’s hearing today, it was determined that he is not competent to stand trial. His trial will be reset when he is considered competent.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 25, 2105) - The Indianapolis FBI field office announced an investigation into a possible civil rights violation after a foreign exchange student was attacked in Brown County.

Dana Ericson was arrested on charges including attempted murder, aggravated battery causing serious permanent disfigurement and battery by means of a deadly weapon. He told police he attacked the 18-year-old girl for "ethnic cleansing."

The FBI said in a statement:

"The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence and will ensure that the investigation is conducted in a far, thorough, and impartial manner. As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to comment further at this time."

The investigation by the FBI comes as a hate crimes bill is put on hold in the Indiana statehouse. Indiana is one of only five states across the nation without hate crime laws. Lawmakers are hoping to mimic federal laws.

Senator Greg Taylor (D) said the bill would allow for sentencing enhancements if a person if found guilty of a hate crime. He used the following example to describe how the law would have worked. "If someone were to take a baseball bat and beat up your car and just walked away, that would be considered destruction of property. You could probably take them to court. They would be charged with destruction of property and probably reimburse you for the cost of the car, but what happens if someone were to paint a swastika on that car and it happened to be owned by a Jewish person? Is the message that we're sending that those are the same crimes? Well under the laws of the State of Indiana, they are."

Senator Taylor said Senate Bill 202 won't be heard this session because of timing restraints. He said he hopes to change the bill and make it stronger before presenting it next session. Taylor said it's all about the message the state is sending to criminals.

“That’s not American. That’s not Hoosier, so I don’t care what the reason might be, we all know that we don’t want people walking around attacking people because they’re different," Taylor said.

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