YPSILANTI TOWNSHIP (AP) – A 19-year-old white Ypsilanti Township woman was ordered to write a 200- to 250-word essay on diversity, attend a racial sensitivity class, spend six months in jail and serve two years’ probation for racial slurs aimed at her black next-door neighbor.

Judge Darlene O’Brien called Leah Keaton’s behavior “very, very hurtful” during Monday’s sentencing in Washtenaw County Probate Court, AnnArbor.com reported Thursday. Keaton had pleaded guilty July 23 to ethnic intimidation.
“I want to get my life on a better track,” Keaton told O’Brien.

Keaton’s 23-year-old neighbor told police she was pushed to the ground after confronting Keaton and her ex-boyfriend, Joseph Starr, on July 3 upon overhearing them repeatedly use a racial slur.

Police left after no one answered the door at Keaton’s home, about 30 miles southwest of Detroit. But officers returned after receiving complaints that Keaton and Starr were throwing rocks at the neighbor’s house and singing songs about killing black people.

Keaton and Starr were arrested a few days later. Authorities later learned the same racial slur had been used toward the neighbor’s 63-year-old father.

“You are a danger to the race you are targeting,” assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brenda Taylor told Keaton. Taylor also read aloud in court a Facebook post in which Keaton bragged about the incident.

Laura Dudley, Keaton’s court-appointed attorney, argued that her client was influenced by her ex-boyfriend. Starr was sentenced Aug. 8 to 60 days in jail after pleading no contest to assault and battery.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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