A Sidney man has been charged with a hate crime in connection with a March 2 assault incident against an individual which allegedly arose due to the assumption of the victim’s sexual orientation.
Nathan Pohl, 28, on Monday appeared for a preliminary hearing on an enhanced Class IV felony count of third-degree assault.
The count is normally carried out as a Class I misdemeanor, but Cheyenne County Deputy Attorney Jon Stellar said he amended the charges to reflect the nature of the assault.
The charge against Pohl carries a prison term of up to five years and up to a $10,000 fine, upon conviction.
Pohl is charged with striking another individual outside Dude’s Restaurant/Lounge, where he allegedly struck Eddie Hecker just after midnight March 2.
When authorities first arrived on the scene, Pohl allegedly had blood on his face, but as the investigation ensued, witnesses were consistent with statements that established Pohl as the aggressor.
One witness at the scene told Sidney City Police that he believed the fight started because Pohl apparently stated that he does not like homosexuals, and a second witness stated that the fight began because Hecker was holding hands with his partner as they exited the establishment.
The second witness also said that Pohl used rude language in addressing Hecker before witnesses reporting see Hecker being jumped by Pohl.
Police originally charged Pohl with third-agree assault, disturbing the peace and criminal trespass, as Pohl has previously been warned to stay away from Dude’s premises.
Arraignment for Pohl is set for Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. before Cheyenne County District Judge Derek Weimer