A South Carolina man will spend a decade in prison for hiring a hit man to lynch his Black neighbor.

Brandon Cory Lecroy was sentenced to 10 years in prison and three years of court-ordered supervision on April 12, reports The New York Times. As Blavity previously reported, Lecroy was arrested in 2018 after communicating with an undercover FBI agent posing as an assassin. He wanted his Black neighbor, known as “FJ,” murdered and hung from a tree. Lecroy also suggested the man burn a cross in FJ’s yard.

Investigators learned of the plot after Lecroy contacted the Ku Klux Klan to seek assistance. He was later connected to the agent, who introduced himself as “Mark.”

After they began to speak, Lecroy provided pictures of two potential targets and shared the best times to commit the crime. The 26-year-old also asked Mark for a “ghost gun,” an untraceable 9mm handgun that wasn’t stolen.

Lecroy initially pleaded not guilty but later changed his plea for one murder-for-hire charge. He received the maximum sentence allowed by law. His lawyer Erica Soderdahl admitted Lecroy hired the hitman but insisted it wasn’t racially motivated, reports The State.

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She accused FJ of trespassing on Lecroy’s property to beg for food and start a conflict.

“But FJ kept coming back,” said Soderdahl. “It’s not about an overriding feeling toward a race — it’s about one individual.”

Soderdahl argued her client contacted the KKK out of desperation when the police would not intervene.

“Brandon called the KKK because who else was he going to call?” Soderdahl said. “It had nothing to do with the color of his skin.” She also claimed Lecroy had the mental capacity of a 6-year-old child.

Federal prosecutor William Watkins didn’t buy the explanation and cited tapes of Lecroy using racist language and referencing KKK symbols.

“Your honor, the fact that he reached out to the KKK — this is not a low-functioning individual. It’s telling that to get a Black person eliminated, he turned to the KKK,” said Watkins.

He added, “He doesn’t call a biker gang,” Watkins told the judge. “It all boils down to this: he sought to eliminate his neighbor based on his race.”

Lecroy's motive was irrelevant to U.S. Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks. He said he would have issued the maximum sentence even if the crime didn't meet the requirements for a hate crime conviction. 

“It’s one thing to think these thoughts," Hendricks said. "But it’s a crime to undertake to do harm to another."

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