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Suspects are charged in Arroyo Grande cross burning

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Four suspects were charged in connection with a cross burning outside the house of a black woman in Arroyo Grande. All four were charged with arson, cross burning, terrorism, and conspiracy to commit cross burning.

Jeremiah Leo Hernandez, 32; Jason Wayne Kahn, 36; Sara Kay Matheny, 24; and William Michael Soto, 20, pled not guilty to all charges on July 25 in a San Luis Obispo County courtroom. All four have been charged with a hate crime enhancement, which could add on more prison time if they’re convicted. Kahn, whom law enforcement sources say sports a tattoo of a crucified skinhead figure, is also charged with witness intimidation.

All four were arrested for different crimes and were already in jail before they were charged. Kahn was a resident of Orcutt before being arrested, while the others were listed as transients.

The saga began March 18 when a wooden cross, stolen from a church, was burned on land next door to where a black woman was living, but outside her bedroom window. Arroyo Grande police brought in the FBI and other police agencies to help solve the case.

According to Arroyo Grande police, the land where the cross was burned is where Kahn’s father, Rick, was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies in 1994.

The four suspects are due in court for a hearing Aug. 15.

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