Jury says Concord man is guilty of hate crime
Donald Freese, 21, of Concord is the first person convicted in Merrimack County of a racially motivated hate crime and faces extra prison time.
A Merrimack County Superior Court jury convicted Freese of felony criminal threatening, second-degree assault and accomplice to simple assault for the attack on a Manchester man, Alhaji Kargbo, 25, last July 31 in front of the Market Basket in Hooksett.
Witnesses testified that Freese, co-defendant Joshua Peno, 21, of Nottingham, and two others in a vehicle shouted racially offensive words at Kargbo, who was on a moped on Route 3A. Kargbo then sped up to the vehicle to confront those inside at a red light.
Prosecutors say Freese and Peno got out of the car and attacked Kargbo, pulling him off his moped, punching and kicking him. Freese was accused of later brandishing a knife and slashing at Kargbo, who was able to escape.
The two men were accused of repeatedly cursing and shouting a racial epithet at Kargbo, who is a native of Sierra Leone and moved to the United States in 2005.
Freese did not testify in his own defense, nor did two other people in the car last July, a 15-year-old and Peno's girlfriend, Nicolette Nicolaides.
Nicolaides was convicted in connection with the fatal shooting of Lennoxx Tibbs in Manchester on Oct. 22, 2009, who was the subject of racial slurs as he was chased and killed on Wilson Street. Joshua Sprague, then 25, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Nicolaides pleaded guilty to felony burglary conspiracy and misdemeanors of hindering apprehension and false swearing in a negotiated plea that called for cooperating with prosecutors.
She was one of seven people recruited by Sprague who went to Tibbs' 259 Wilson St. apartment building to fight with a woman he blamed for drug deals gone bad. That woman, who was staying at Tibbs' apartment with her boyfriend, heard the group enter the building and hid on the third floor as Tibbs tried to escape the crowd, which entered the second-floor apartment armed with baseball bats and a gun.
The group chased Tibbs down the stairs and out into the street, shouting racial slurs. When they reached the street, Joshua Sprague fired at Tibbs, whose hands were raised, fatally wounding him.
Because the accomplice to simple assault charge against Freese was brought as a racially-motivated hate crime, the enhanced penalty is two to five years, instead of the one-year sentence for simple assault.
The class B felonies carry sentences of 3 1/2 to seven years each.
Assistant Merrimack County Attorney Wayne Coull said Freese will be sentenced in 45 to 60 days, after completion of a pre-sentence investigation.
Freese's co-defendant, Peno, is scheduled for trial in March on two of the same charges. He does not face a criminal threatening charge.