Payson brothers charged with hate crime in alleged assault on LDS missionary

(Photos courtesy of Utah County Sheriff's Office) Malachi Bay West, 20, left, and Sebastian Francis West, 19, both of Payson, were charged Feb. 17, 2020, with assault with a hate-crime enhancement, accused in the beating of a Latter-day Saint missionary on Jan. 28, 2020.

Two Payson brothers have been charged with a hate crime in the alleged assault last month of a black Latter-day Saint missionary.

The Utah County attorney’s office filed a charge of assault with a hate crime enhancement against Malachi Bay West, 20, and Sebastian Francis West, 19, over an alleged attack on two missionaries on Jan. 28.

The Wests are being held in the Utah County jail, on $5,000 bail each. According to the charging document, the hate crime enhancement was added because the assault was intended or gave a person reason to believe that the attacker meant “to intimidate or terrorize another person.”

According to a probable cause statement by a Payson police officer, the two missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had arrived at a Payson home just after a group of six or seven young men were threatening a resident in the front yard. One of the missionaries, who is from Panama and has dark skin, stepped in and asked the young men to leave. When they refused, the missionary got out his phone to call the police, but one of the men grabbed the phone and threw it across the street.

Then the group’s attention turned to the missionary, and the insults began, many of them using the N-word. One of the young men put brass knuckles on both hands and clanged them together — which the missionary said was intimidating and scared him.

The missionary tried to return to the resident’s house, the police statement said. That’s when, according to police, one young man tried to tackle the missionary around his feet, while another punched him in the head. Then the group started punching and kicking the missionary, and more insults were hurled: “This is our turf, n-----,” “Go back to slavery, stupid n-----,” and similar epithets.

The missionary suffered injuries to his lips, head, shoulders, ribs and forehead, police reported. His missionary companion, who is white, was not targeted in the attack.

One of the young men referred to another as “Malachi,” according to the probable cause statement. Police, who arrived just after the homeowner chased the men off, were familiar with a young man named Malachi, and presented a series of photos — including those of the West brothers — to the missionary, who later picked both brothers out of police lineups.

When arrested and questioned by police, the statement said, both West brothers said they took part in the assault.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint spokesman Daniel Woodruff said in a statement issued when the Wests were arrested last week that the church was concerned about what happened to the missionaries and grateful they are OK.

“Mission leaders have worked to provide them the care and support they need. We appreciate the efforts of law enforcement as they investigate this incident,” he said.