City man gets 6 years for assault

September 10, 2000

City man gets 6 years for assault

By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer

A Hagerstown man convicted in July of second-degree assault for grabbing a black child on the street after yelling racial statements at the child's white mother was sentenced Thursday to six years in prison.

Joshua Erick Leggett, 25, formerly of 127 E. Franklin St., told Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell he was "sorry about this."

But after looking at his criminal history, which dated back to 1987, McDowell was unmoved.

"I see lots of intimidation here," McDowell said. "You saw a mixed race child and you decided that child should not be accepted."

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Joe Michael described Leggett's social history as disturbing, noting that at age 13 he pushed a 7-year-old child down. On another occasion, he made threats to kill animals.


As an adult, there were incidents of harassment of a neighbor in whose yard he placed a cross and slurs written on litter also left in neighbors' yards, Michael said.

"Most telling is a 1997 evaluation which reports that Leggett is an untreated alcoholic who is unsafe to be in the community," Michael said. "That prediction has sadly come true."

A jury of seven women and five men deliberated just over three hours before returning a guilty verdict in the February assault case.

Testimony centered on events Feb. 22 shortly after 11 a.m. when Wendy Chaney was walking in the first block of North Locust Street with her three children.

She testified she was approached from behind by a white man who began yelling racial obscenities at her and her children.

References were made to lynching and monkeys, according to court records.

Then, Chaney said, the man grabbed her 2-year-old son and held him up by his collar. That caused the boy to be quite upset, his mother said.

"He has unpopular views and obviously, the conduct here was wrong," said defense attorney Eric Reed.

Reed said there was no physical injury to the child.

Leggett, who also has a history of painting racist graffiti on buildings, could have received up to 10 years in prison.

On April 22, 1997, Leggett was sentenced to two years in prison for convictions in Washington County Circuit Court on racial harassment charges for spray painting graffiti on two laundromats.

Leggett also received two concurrent sentences of six months each for malicious destruction of property.

Swastikas, the letters "SS," a drawing of a hangman, references to Aryan Nation and other ethnic remarks were found inside and outside the buildings, police said in 1996.

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