24-year-old Axel Charles Cox has been accused of burning a cross in his yard, in Gulfport, Mississippi, for intimidation purposes. He has now pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime.
In September, Cox was indicted on charges of criminal interference with the right to fair housing and using fire to commit a federal felony.
On November 21, he pleaded guilty to the first charge. Cox is looking at up to 10 years in prison, 3 years probation, and a fine that can be up to $250,000.
The second charge was dropped in the midst of a plea deal.
The incident is said to have happened on Dec. 3, 2020, when Cox burned a cross in his front yard and used threatening and racially derogatory remarks towards his neighbors in an attempt to try to scare them.
Jim Davis, Cox’s lawyer, has said that the defendant was just responding to the neighbors supposedly shooting his dog.
Cox had already been serving an 8-year sentence for the possession of drugs and receiving stolen property. The burning cross occurrence had happened 17 months prior to this unrelated sentence.
Cox will be given his other sentence on March 9, 2023.