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Deliberations ongoing in Amish beard case

CLEVELAND, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Jurors deliberated for a fourth day Wednesday in the trial of 16 Amish men and women accused of hate crimes for cutting their Amish rivals' beards.

The panel of seven men and five women deliberated for 16 hours over two days last week and for a full day Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, WJW-TV in Cleveland reported. They met again Wednesday morning to decide the fate of the group of 10 men and six women, including their leader, Sam Mullet, accused of orchestrating the forcible cutting of nine men's beards and hair last September and November.

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Head hair and beards are sacred symbols of faith in God for Amish men. Defense attorneys have said their clients were trying to bring the men back to God by ordering their beards cut. Prosecutors said the cuttings were part of a family feud.

Prosecutors were tasked with proving the attacks were religiously motivated and that they caused bodily harm, two essential tenants for a hate crime conviction.

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