The leader of 16 Amish men and women found guilty of hate crimes for cutting the hair and beards of fellow members of their faith has lost another request to be released from prison.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Seven of nine Amish defendants convicted in beard- and hair-cutting attacks on fellow Amish can remain free before they are sentenced early next year, a federal judge ruled Monday.
Most of the defendants U.S. District Court Judge Dan Aaron Polster is allowing to remain in their homes are women with large families, and the judge said he's mindful that their immediate detention could leave a number of very young children without parents.
The judge also said it was unlikely that suitable long-term care arrangements have been made since the defendants were found guilty Sept. 20.
"Further, the court does not believe any of these seven defendants will flee, nor is it likely they will commit another offense," he said. "None of the defendants has any prior record, and each was involved in only one of the religiously motivated attacks."
But the judge also said in his ruling that all defendants should be prepared to be taken into custody in late January if he imposes a prison sentence.
The judge declined to allow two defendants, Lester Miller and Raymond Miller, to remain free and ordered them to report to U.S. marshals by Friday.
A federal jury in Cleveland convicted 16 Amish defendants of hate crimes in last fall's attacks, which prosecutors say stemmed from religious disputes among the Amish in eastern Ohio. Prosecutors say the defendants targeted hair because it carries spiritual significance in their faith.
Defense attorneys did not deny that the hair-cuttings took place. They contended that the Amish are bound by different rules guided by their religion and that the government shouldn't get involved in what amounted to a family or church dispute.
The leader of the group was found guilty of orchestrating the cuttings in an attempt to shame mainstream members he believed were straying from their beliefs. His followers were found guilty of carrying out the attacks, which terrorized the normally peaceful religious settlements.
Nine of the 16 defendants remained free after the convictions, but the government had wanted them all locked up before sentencing.
Several of the people convicted are married, and prison terms could leave close to 50 children with one parent or both parents behind bars.
An attorney for one woman, Linda Schrock, argued she should be allowed to remain free until sentencing in part because she's busy harvesting crops and canning food for her 10 children. Her husband, who also was convicted, has been jailed since his arrest.
An attorney for another woman, Lovina Miller, said she has eight children she works hard to support and wasn't a flight risk because she travels by horse and buggy and has strong beliefs against air travel.
Schrock and Lovina Miller were among the seven defendants the judge allowed to remain free.
The attorney for Lester Miller, whose bond was revoked, had argued his family was relying on the money he makes and saves from his work on a construction crew over the next few months until his sentence is completed.
Miller, who has 11 children under the age of 16, also is needed at home for the fall harvest and to preserve food for the winter, his attorney argued.
One of 16 Amish convicted in beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in Ohio has a few days to say her goodbyes before heading to prison.
The Amish imprisoned in beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in Ohio will no longer be required to attend high-school equivalency classes behind bars.
The Amish schoolhouse quiets as students in first through eighth grades settle into tight rows of scuffed metal desks to begin singing, their voices rising and dipping like the surrounding hills.
The leader of a group of 16 Amish men and women found guilty of hate crimes for cutting the hair and beards of fellow members of their faith has lost a request to be released from prison pending an appeal of his conviction and sentencing.
Sixteen Amish men and women who have lived rural, self-sufficient lives with little outside contact are facing regimented routines in a federal prison system where modern conveniences such as television will be a constant temptation.
The last two of 16 Amish found guilty in beard- and hair-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in Ohio have appealed their convictions.
The ringleader of 16 Amish found guilty in beard- and hair-cutting hate-crime attacks on fellow members of their faith in Ohio asked an appeals court Wednesday to overturn his conviction.
Amish convicted in hair- and beard-cutting attacks on fellow members of their faith in Ohio are lining up to appeal their convictions.
The leader of 16 Amish convicted in beard-cutting attacks in Ohio will serve more than a dozen years in prison.