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John Daley ReportingA federal trial involving three white supremacists is trying to determine whether they are dealing with drunken bar fights or hate crimes. This case involves two fights at two bars in Salt Lake City on New Year's Eve 2002 and March of 2003.
In the first, the victim was Hispanic and in the second, a Native American. On trial are three members of what was then one of the most prominent white supremacist groups in the U.S. Travis Massey, Eric Egbert and Shaun Walker, then leader of the group.
On the stand today is Keith Cotter who is in jail for another attack and who says he has since left the group. Cotter testified that he put a bartender at O'Shucks bar into a headlock as the defendants kicked and hit him. He said that three months later he got into another fight along with Massey at the bar Port O'Call in which the men attacked a Native American man and Cotter smashed his skull into the street.
Cotter described both incidents as "targets of opportunity" part of a "mission" to "try to beat non-whites in semi-public places" as a National Alliance recruiting tool aimed at "instilling fear in the non-white community."
But defense attorneys repeatedly challenged his telling of events, his role and a cooperation agreement he's entered with the prosecution.
There are still three witnesses left and then we'll hear closing arguments. Today the judge indicated he thinks the case will go to the 12 member jury tomorrow.