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Prosecutor Requests Life Sentence for Amish Bishop

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The U.S. Attorney's office wants Ohio Amish bishop Samuel Mullet behind bars for life as punishment for orchestrating a series of attacks against other Amish. Federal prosecutors filed the request Tuesday with the judge who is due to sentence Mullet and 15 others this week. ideastream's David C. Barnett has more.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 2:43 am

Last fall, Sam Mullet and his followers were convicted on federal hate crime charges for attacking perceived enemies by shearing their beards and long hair --- a powerful spiritual insult to the Amish. In a 35-page memorandum delivered to Judge Daniel Polster, prosecutors say Mullet exerted cult-like influence over his church members and deserved a life sentence for masterminding the assaults. Lesser sentences were recommended for the other defendants. By contrast, a defense memorandum describes the 67-year-old Mullet as an "elderly first-time offender" who deserves no more than two years in prison. Ohio State University legal scholar Douglas Berman says the wide gap between the two sides is part of a sentencing strategy.

DOUGLAS BERMAN: Whether they'll admit it or not, both defense attorneys and prosecutors know the instinct of judges to see merit in both sides' arguments. And so, often the challenge is to ask for maybe even a slightly more extreme sentence than you think is possible, but in doing so, setting a framework for the judge to debate.

Judge Polster will have the final say in a court hearing scheduled for Friday morning.

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