10 Years Or More In Deadly Racial Firebombing

SALEM, Ore. - Three men have been sentenced to more than 25 years in prison each for the racially motivated firebombing that killed a black woman and a white man.

Marion County Circuit Court Judge Albin Norblad sentenced Phillip Wilson to 35 years, Leon Tucker to 30 years, and Sean Edwards to 25 years for the Sept. 26 deaths of Hattie Mae Cohens and Brian Mock.

On April 8, a jury convicted Tucker, 22, and Wilson, 21, of tossing two gasoline-filled bottles into Cohens' basement apartment, killing Cohens, 29 and Mock, 45.

The men also were convicted of assault, arson and racial intimidation.

Sean Edwards, 22, had pleaded guilty to murder and agreed to testify in return for a chance at parole. He acknowledged tossing the first firebomb.

Tucker tossed the other firebomb, and Wilson filled the bombs with gasoline and drove the pair to and from the Salem apartment, prosecutors said.

Wilson's former girlfriend, Yolanda Cotton, 20, was acquitted of all charges.

Tucker and Wilson apologized during the sentencing, but Norblad likened their comments to "foxhole religion."

Eight people were asleep in the apartment when the firebombs were tossed; Cohens and Mock were not the intended victims.

Edwards and Tucker, who are white, were seeking revenge after an earlier confrontation with four friends of Cohens, who were all black and were sleeping in the apartment.

According to trial testimony, friends of Cohens kicked in the door of an apartment Tucker and Edwards had visited earlier.

They confronted the pair over a racist insult yelled loud enough to be heard in the other apartment.

Edwards, who was punched in the mouth, drove with Tucker to an apartment shared by Wilson and Cotton. There the firebombs were assembled.

Tucker and Wilson testified they neither had a plan nor intended to kill. Tucker and Edwards claimed they moved from one window to the next to avoid tossing the bottles where someone might be sleeping.

David Kramer, Marion County deputy district attorney, dismissed that explanation.

He said Tucker boasted to friends at a party after the firebombing, saying: "Mess with the best - die like the rest."