Thursday, May 22 2014, 09:21 PM MDT
Southern Utah Man Behind Bars for Hate Crime
(KUTV) A Southern Utah man accused of threatening to kill a black teenager has been arrested for a second time after failing to appear in court to answer federal hate crime charges.
Robert Keller, 70, of Hurricane, faces two misdemeanor charges of criminal interference with a right to fair housing. Prosecutors say he sent threatening letters to a bi-racial family living in his neighborhood.
"The information alleges that Keller wrote a note to two Caucasian family members of an interracial family threatening to kill them if they did not make their African-American family member leave their home and the community," said an April press release from the Department of Justice.
The court charging documents for the federal case state that the incident happened around December 30, 2013.
Hurricane Police originally arrested Keller on state misdemeanor charges. He was arrested again on Tuesday on a federal warrant issued after he missed two court appearances.
After his absence at the first court appearance, federal agents were dispatched to double check that Keller received the summons and alert him of the next court date, according to U.S. Attorney's Office spokesperson Melodie Rydalch.
After missing the second court date on Monday, agents arrested Keller and booked him into the Washington County Jail.
Keller's attorney in the state case said that his client was not aware of the federal court appearances.
"To the best of his knowledge he was not notified," Terry Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson said it should have been easy for federal agents to reach his client, either directly or through legal counsel, to notify him of the two court dates.
"Their intention is to make this a publicity case," Hutchinson said of the federal prosecutors.
Keller is now in the custody of the FBI and will be transported to Salt Lake City to appear 10 a.m. Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Evelyn Furse, according to Rydalch.
The case is being investigated by the Salt Lake City Division of the FBI with assistance from the Hurricane Police Department.
If convicted of the federal charges, Keller could face a statutory maximum penalty of one year in prison on each count.
By: Ladd Egan
(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)