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Skinhead convicted in racial attack

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Billy Wayne Worl Jr., a self-proclaimed skinhead and Oklahoma felon, was convicted Wednesday night of trying to kill a black man in a racial attack.

After a week of testimony and just four hours of deliberations, a Superior Court jury announced Worl, 24, was guilty of second-degree attempted murder and malicious harassment.

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Worl, who remained expressionless when the verdict was read, had been charged with attempted first-degree murder. The jury also had the option of acquitting him of attempted murder and convicting him of assault.

The attempted second-degree murder and malicious harassment convictions were seen as a victory for prosecutors, who had argued that racism was a key issue in the trial.

Prosecutor Donald Brockett had no comment on what type of sentence he would seek, and a sentencing date was not immediately announced by Judge Marcus Kelly.

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It was believed to be the first or among the first malicious harassment prosecutions in the state. The crime is defined as causing a physical injury with the intention of harassing or intimidating someone because of race, color or ancestry.

'This case is about racism,' Brockett told the jury earlier Wednesday in closing arguments.

Jurors had to decide whether the July 30 knife attack on Ray Hill Jr. was the result of Worl's racist lifestyle and philosophy, Brockett said.

Worl's lawyer disagreed. 'You may not approve of his lifestyle, but please do not hold that against him in determining his fate,' public defender Maryann Moreno said. 'Skinheads aren't on trial. White supremacy is not on trial. The Aryan Nations isn't on trial. Racism is not on trial.

'Self-defense -- that is what we contend is the real issue here,' she said.

Both Worl and Hill, 29, of Spokane, testified they each feared for their lives during the encounter in a supermarket parking lot.

Worl, of Bartlesville, Okla., testified he approached Hill's car with theintention of panhandling for money and that he pulled his knife only after Hill jumped out of the car with a piece of pipe Worl said he mistook for a gun.

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Hill, who suffered severe knife wounds, testified that he feared he would be shot sitting in the car and tried to defend himself with the pipe.

A second defendant, James 'Timmy' Carver, must still stand trial in juvenile court.

Asked by Moreno to describe his beliefs, Worl said he did not hate blacks and declared, 'White power for white people; black power for black people.'

Under cross-examination by Brockett, Worl acknowledged he is proud to be a skinhead. 'I believe in America. I'm not a communist or anything,' he said.

Worl agreed that the term 'Nazi, American, Christian racist' might appropriately define his beliefs.

Worl said he came to the Spokane area a week before the incident and had been attracted to the area by the white supremacist Aryan Nations Church in nearby northern Idaho, but never found the Aryan Nations compound.

Spokane police say Hill proudly posed for pictures while giving a Nazi salute and had stacks of neo-Nazi literature in his car when he was arrested.

Before coming to Spokane, Worl served a short portion of a one-year prison sentence in Oklahoma for receiving stolen credit cards.

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