VIGO CO., Ind. (WTHI) - Two men accused of a brutal beating in rural Vigo County early Sunday appeared in court Friday morning to be formally charged.
David Rayhel and Jesse Norton were each charged with Aggravated Battery, Battery by Means of a Deadly Weapon and Criminal Recklessness with a Vehicle, each a felony. The men were also charged with misdemeanor battery.
Authorities believe Rayhel and Norton, along with a woman named Britnie Parrish, chased Brandon Pettiford and another woman through rural Vigo County, forced them to stop, pulled Pettiford out of a car and beat him severely. Pettiford was taken to an Indianapolis hospital because of the severity of his injuries, authorities said.
Despite the charges, an online petition has called on prosecutors to file hate crime charges a gainst Rayhel and Norton, alleging the beating was racially-motivated.
Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt told News 10 he cannot charge anyone with a hate crime because Indiana does not have a hate crime penalty law.
"Obviously, if there's not a statute that exists, making it a crime, then you can't file it," Modesitt said. "So, what we have to do is take the facts of each crime and see what charges do fit."
Modesitt pointed out that factors like motivation can come into account during sentencing for someone who has been convicted of a crime.
Parrish faces one misdemeanor battery charge.
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