Trial begins in Ohio Amish beard-cutting attacks

Levi Miller, Johnny Mullet, and Lester Mullet, of Bergholz, Ohio. These three men and another, Lester Miller, all believed to be members of a breakaway Amish group, were arrested Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011 for allegedly going into the home of an elderly Amish man and cutting his hair and beard. (AP Photo/Jefferson County Sheriffs Department)

August 27, 2012 7:35:35 AM PDT
Sixteen people charged with hates crimes in hair-cutting attacks on fellow Amish are going on trial this week in Ohio.

Jury selection began Monday morning in Cleveland. Among those who are charged are the leader of a breakaway Amish group and four of his children who all live in eastern Ohio.

Prosecutors say some of the suspects forcibly cut the beards and hair of Amish men and the hair of women last fall. Authorities say the attacks were motivated by religious differences.

Some of the defendants face prison terms of 20 years or more if convicted. They have turned down plea bargains that would have carried much shorter sentences.

The group's leader contends that they should be allowed to handle what they see as internal church disciplinary matters.