Cape man gets three years in prison for breaking windows at Islamic Center

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A man convicted of hate crime charges for vandalizing the Islamic Center in Cape Girardeau in June was sentenced to three years in prison Tuesday.

Nicholas T. Proffit, 32, of Cape Girardeau pleaded guilty in court before New Madrid County Circuit Judge Fred Copeland. The case was transferred to New Madrid County on a change of venue.

Proffit was sentenced to three years each on two counts of property damage motivated by discrimination, which is a felony, and six months on one count of driving while intoxicated. The sentences will run concurrently.

According to Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle, hate crimes are a rare occurrence in Cape Girardeau, with fewer than one a year.

The incident occurred May 31, when police responded to a report of property damage at the Islamic Center, 298 N. West End Blvd.

Police arrived to find a large glass window on the south side of the building and smaller windows in the double doors had been broken. Several rocks lay on the floor inside the building, and a yellow Dollar General shopping bag containing a rock was found on the front steps.

The windshield of a white Mercedes-Benz parked at the southwest part of the lot was also cracked as though something had been thrown at it.

Witnesses living nearby described seeing a man get out of a black four-door vehicle minutes earlier and begin throwing rocks.

Proffit was later spotted driving a vehicle that matched witnesses' description, and officers stopped the car. Proffit then began throwing rocks out the window at the officers.

A search of his person revealed a number of small rocks he'd stashed in his pockets.

bdicosmo@semissourian.com

388-3635

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