Man who yelled racial slurs at teenagers at Coeur d'Alene McDonald's not convicted of hate crime

Richard Sovenski, a Hayden, Idaho, man who was arrested days after yelling racial slurs and profanities at a group of teenagers while they were getting ice cream at a Coeur d'Alene McDonald's, was found guilty of committing misdemeanor battery but not of felony malicious harassment — a hate crime.

click to enlarge Man who yelled racial slurs at teenagers at Coeur d'Alene McDonald's not convicted of hate crime
Richard Sovenski
Last summer, the Inlander reported on the circumstances leading to Sovenski's arrest. On Jul. 12, a group of high schoolers with a Spokane youth group from Immanuel Church in West Central Spokane traveled to Coeur d'Alene to hear a guest preacher. Afterwards, the group, led by the church's former youth community director, Jose Ceniceros, took them to a local McDonald's for ice cream.

According to Ceniceros, as the group was leaving, Sovenski, 52, started yelling racial slurs and profanity at them. (A woman who was standing near Sovenski later told police that the kids were "being rude, dancing and running around causing a disturbance," a notion that Ceniceros disputes.) As they neared the door to leave, Sovenski punched Ceniceros and threw him to the ground. Once they were outside, Ceniceros took out his phone and began filming.

The recording, which was shared with the Inlander, shows Sovenski yelling the following at Ceniceros and the youth group: "Why don't you get a f—kin' job," and "I will f—k you up in a f—kin' heartbeat you f—kin' little faggot. Oh you f—k you, you f—kin' half breed."

As Sovenski and another man walk back towards the restaurant, Sovenski shouts: "Get the f—k out of Idaho ... F—k you, you f—kin' half breeds."

CdA McDonald's hate crime from Mitch Ryals on Vimeo.

The jury verdict absolving Sovenski of a felony hate crime was delivered on Dec. 20.

According to KHQ, during closing arguments in the case on Dec. 19, Sovenski's attorney that he simply lost his cool that night and wasn't intending to commit a hate crime. In response, the county prosecutor slammed the defense's "excuses" as unacceptable.

"I am disappointed and angry that this is what happened with all the evidence presented," Ceniceros tells the Inlander in response to the jury's verdict. "All the evidence is there. He should have been convicted of a hate crime."

"I don’t understand what happened," he adds.

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About The Author

Josh Kelety

As a staff writer, Josh covers criminal justice issues and Spokane County government. Previously, he worked as a reporter for Seattle Weekly. Josh grew up in Port Townsend and graduated from the University of Washington. Message him through Signal @ (360) 301-3490.