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An Idaho man accused of a hate crime has been found not guilty

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Posted at 12:56 PM, Dec 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-21 15:36:19-05

COEUR D'ALENE — An Idaho man accused of a felony hate crime has been been found not guilty.

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports a jury on Thursday found 52-year-old Richard Sovenski, of Hayden, not guilty of malicious harassment, but guilty of a misdemeanor charge of battery.

The charges stemmed from an incident last summer in which Sovenski was filmed in a McDonald's parking lot screaming obscenities and slurs at teenagers in a church youth group.

Deputy prosecutor Arthur Verharen said Sovenski yelled racist and homophobic remarks at the teenagers and their adult supervisors.

Defense attorney Michael Palmer said Sovenski was dealing with family issues including his wife's health -- she had just completed her ninth shoulder surgery -- as well as on-the-job stress when he stopped for beers before heading to McDonald's.

District Judge Scott Wayman called for a sentencing hearing within 30 days of Thursday's verdict.