Court won't hear Ohio man's Amish hair-cutting case

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court won't review the case of the Ohio leader of a breakaway group that was accused in hair- and beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish.

Defense lawyers challenged the constitutionality of the federal hate crimes law and how a kidnapping allegation was used to stiffen the sentence for 71-year-old Samuel Mullet Sr. He petitioned the Supreme Court after a federal court rejected his appeal last May.

Mullet's attorney, Ed Bryan, told he was disappointed by the high court's decision last week not to take up the case.

Prosecutors said some of the victims in the 2011 attacks were awakened in the middle of the night and restrained as others cut their hair and beards, which have spiritual significance in the Amish faith. Prosecutors alleged the motive was religious, while the defense attributed it to family disputes.

Mullet, who led a group in the eastern Ohio community of Bergholz near the West Virginia panhandle, was accused of orchestrating the attacks. Despite arguments that he wasn't present during the hair-cuttings, he received an 11-year sentence.

Of the 16 people sentenced, he is the lone defendant still in prison.

An appeals court dismissed hate-crimes convictions for the defendants because of an issue with jury instructions. The defendants were resentenced on remaining charges, mainly conspiracy to obstruct justice, though half already had completed their sentences by then.

Mullet, whose wife died after he was incarcerated, recently had triple-bypass heart surgery, Bryan said.

Published: Mon, Feb 27, 2017