COLUMBIA — Boone County prosecutors have decided to charge Michael Garrett Pezold with committing a hate crime for his role in an October incident at Walmart.
Pezold, 20, was scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday on a felony charge of third-degree assault. The charge stems from an Oct. 29 incident in which police say Pezold and his brother attacked black families coming out of the Walmart at 3001 W. Broadway.
Third-degree assault is normally a misdemeanor, but under Missouri law certain misdemeanors can be "enhanced" to felony charges if prosecutors think the crimes were motivated by race. With the hate crime enhancement, Pezold could now face up to four years in prison if convicted.
Pezold's brother, James Robert Pezold, 25, can't be charged with the hate crime enhancement because the charges against him are felonies already. He is charged with first-degree tampering, leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident, second-degree assault of a law enforcement officer and four counts of first-degree assault.
James Pezold received a continuance for his first preliminary hearing yesterday. He is set to appear again Dec. 2 at 9 a.m.