Local group wants man's beating investigated as hate crime

December 16, 2011 7:49:30 PM PST
The Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations wants the FBI to investigate the beating of a Muslim man in Tomball as a hate crime.

David Neinberg showed no remorse Friday morning as he walked into court, smiling and waving at his family. But a judge found probable cause to continue with the case against him. He faces a charge of aggravated assault with serious bodily injury for an attack on Yaqub Bham.

Bham is Pakistani and works as a home security consultant. Police say Bham went to Nienberg's home in Tomball on Wednesday and Nienberg beat Bham into unconsciousness and part of Bham's ear was bitten off.

"He kept asking about his name, and where are you from so he just became very aggressive," Bham's wife told Eyewitness News.

The family, along with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, say he was targeted because of his ethnicity and religion and that this should be considered a hate crime. Local prosecutors say that designation will come into play during the trial.

"If the jury finds that during the trial of the defendant that the crime was committed because of bias or prejudice, that the defendant selected the victim because of bias or prejudice, and if they find that beyond a reasonable doubt, the punishment can be enhanced up to life in prison," said Donna Hawkins with the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

In court Thursday, prosecutors said Nienberg's own son called 911. It took several deputies and a Taser gun to stop Nienberg from choking Bham.

If at some point in the judicial process they decide that it could be proven that this incident was a hate crime, Nienberg could spend up to the rest of his life behind bars.


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