Georgia couple gets prison for racist threats at child's birthday party

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Jose Torres, left, weeps in his seat while during his sentencing at the Douglas County Courthouse in Douglasville, Ga., Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. Superior Court Judge William McClain sentenced... (Henry P. Taylor/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) Jose Torres, left, weeps in his seat while during his sentencing at the Douglas County Courthouse in Douglasville, Ga., Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. Superior Court Judge William McClain sentenced... (Henry P. Taylor/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

(MEREDITH/WGCL) -- Two people convicted in Douglas County for their actions during a 2015 incident where they pulled out a shotgun and threatened to kill black people during a birthday party were sentenced Monday morning.

Joel Torres and Kayla Norton were convicted after a trial in Douglas County, Georgia. Torres was sentenced to 20 years in prison with 13 years to be served.

Norton was sentenced to 15 years behind bars with six to be served.

According to authorities, Torres and Norton were inside a pickup truck full of people waving Confederate flags and interrupted a child's birthday party at a home in metro Atlanta. 

Video of the altercation between the group with confederate flags and the people celebrating the child's birthday party was later released.

Torres was charged with three counts of aggravated assault, terroristic threats and violation of the Georgia street gang act. Norton was charged with aggravated assault and violation of the Georgia street gang act.

Douglas County District Attorney Brian Fortner issued the following statement on the conviction of the two charged:

“This was a very important case for our community. Many people tried to make the case about simply flying the Confederate Battle Flag. However, it wasn’t about that at all. I would never allow someone to be prosecuted for exercising his or her 1St Amendment right to fly whatever flag they choose regardless of anyone’s personal feelings about it. Instead, this case was about a group of people riding around our community, drinking alcohol, harassing and intimidating our citizens because of the color of their skin. Many people from all over this area were so alarmed by this behavior and fearful that something bad was going to happen that they called 911 to report it. Their fear proved to be warranted as members of the group got into a confrontation with local citizens having a birthday party at their home. Members of the group pulled out a shotgun and pointed it at the victims. They used racial slurs and threatened to kill some of the party goers. They even threatened to kill children at the party. I will simply not tolerate this type of behavior in our community. All of the charges were based on threats to kill others and the pointing of the shotgun. This is behavior that even supporters of the Confederate Battle Flag can agree is criminal and shouldn’t be allowed. I am pleased with the jury’s verdict and the efforts of prosecutors David Emadi and Norman Barnett. I am thankful that the jury was able to stay focused on the issues at hand instead of the many distractions associated with this case. They recognized that it was not about flying a flag but it was about pointing a shotgun at other people and threatening to kill them because of the color of their skin. This dangerous and racially motivated behavior is something that our entire community should stand against.” 

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