DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A man who scrawled racial slurs against Asians on a Florida family’s vehicles and placed nails in their driveway could get up to 30 years in prison after he was convicted this week of hate crimes.
Kyle Christiansen, 34, of Daytona Beach, Florida, was convicted by a jury of two counts of criminal mischief with hate crime enhancements. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 13 by Circuit Judge Dennis Craig.
The hate crime enhancement increased the crimes from third-degree felonies punishable by up to five years in prison each to second-degree felonies punishable by up to 15 years in prison each.
According to a police report, the racist Asian slurs were painted in orange last July on the side of a black pickup truck belonging to a male family member. An Asian slur was also painted on the man’s sister-in-law’s gray Honda sedan parked outside the house.
Nails were also placed on the driveway.
The male victim’s wife told police that she had received a Facebook message from an account with the name “Pine Cone” which had a profile picture of a squirrel. The Facebook message contained Asian slurs targeting her and her husband, and said that they needed to die by rat poison, the charging affidavit states.
She said in a deposition that the Facebook messages used slurs and referred to people of Vietnamese descent.
'Not how I see nor portray our city': Asian food truck in Utah damaged with racist graffiti; investigation ongoing
The victim’s wife said that Christiansen was a patient of hers at her dental practice, the affidavit added. The woman said Christiansen had been to her office to have his teeth cleaned the day before she received the Facebook message, the charging affidavit states.
In her deposition, the woman said that Christiansen was a new patient and perhaps was surprised she was Asian. She said that perhaps based on her last name, which isn't Asian, Christiansen may have been expecting a white doctor.
"He kept on saying this office isn't what it seems and he would never expand on that and so that was that," the woman said.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network, is not reporting the names of the victims because the case involved a hate crime.
The "Pine Cone" Facebook user also sent messages to the Bureau of Immigration in the Philippines in May and September 2020 warning that he was planning to stab the first Filipino he saw in his town because of the way his brother was treated on a visit to the Philippines, according to the affidavit.
After his trial, Christiansen was remanded into custody to await sentencing.
State Attorney R.J. Larizza issued a statement after the trial, saying: “Bigotry exists in our communities. It is important to shine a light on it when we can so that folks can see its ugly face.”
Since the coronavirus pandemic across the United States,, Asian Americans have been reporting a significant increase in hate crimes, harassment and discrimination.
There were 6,603 incidents of hate from March 19, 2020 to March 31, 2021 reported to Stop AAPI Hate, according to a national report from the organization which fights hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Verbal harassment made up 65.2% of the incidents and shunning (deliberately avoidance) made up 18.1% of incidents reported, according to the group. Physical assault was the third largest at 12.6%, according to Stop AAPI Hate.
'A collective trauma': Asian Americans confront mental health crisis amid rise of racist attacks
Last month, the suspect in a string of fatal shootings at Atlanta-area massage parlors was indicted on domestic terror and murder charges, and prosecutors signaled they will also seek hate crime charges — something advocates have been pushing since the March slayings rattled the Asian American community.
Christiansen’s vandalism caused more than $5,000 in damage to the family's vehicles. Evidence showed that Christiansen was motivated by the victims’ race and heritage, according to a release from the State Attorney's Office. Christiansen had no prior misdemeanor or felony convictions.
Contributing: Christal Hayes, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Florida man faces 30 years for slurs against Asian American family