COUNCIL GROVE — The U.S. attorney's office said Thursday it had not determined whether the case of a black man being doused with rubbing alcohol and set on fire was racially motivated, but the suspect's attorney said he doubted the case constitutes a federal hate crime.
Sterling Law, 54, suffered second-degree burns to his stomach and upper legs during the Oct. 7 attack at his home in Council Grove.
The U.S. attorney's office has been reviewing the case to determine whether federal hate crime charges should be filed. Jim Cross, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom, said no decision had been made as of Thursday.
Isaac Wilson, 23, already faces county charges including aggravated assault and aggravated burglary in the attack on Law.
Morris County Attorney Laura Allen said her office continues to pursue the charges while federal authorities decide whether they have any possible role.
"We're just moving forward with our case," she said.
Wilson's lawyer, Don Krueger, said that he does not think his client, who is white, committed a hate crime, which would include harming someone because of their race, religion, or gender identity.
"I seriously doubt from the facts I have seen that this was a hate crime," Krueger said.
The affidavits related to Wilson's charges remain sealed, which the Kansas Attorney General's Office said is common practice in criminal cases. Wilson remained jailed on $50,000 bond Thursday.
Glenn Law, Sterling Law's older brother, said after the Morris County charges were filed that his brother said the attackers shouted racial epithets as they broke into his home around 3 a.m. accompanied by a pit bull. Glenn Law also said his brother has a "diminished mental capacity."