Nampa man accused of beating teenage Syrian refugee

Christopher Love
Christopher Love

A Nampa man accused of beating a Syrian refugee in Boise earlier this year pleaded not guilty Wednesday during an appearance in Ada County 4th District Court.

Christopher Blake Love, 25, allegedly injured the teenage boy by punching him in the face or jaw in downtown Boise on Feb. 12. Love was arrested by Boise Police that day.

The police department did not publicize the beating and arrest and the Idaho Statesman did not find out about it until recently when a friend of the victim’s family notified the newspaper.

Deputy Ada County Prosecutor Joshua Haws stopped short of characterizing the beating as a hate crime in an interview with the Statesman. But Love is charged with two felony counts of malicious harassment, Idaho’s hate crime law, and the charging document asserts the victim was struck “because of his race, color, religion, ancestry and or national origin.”

Love is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 17. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison on each charge.

Love had been released from jail on $10,000 bail, but that same day admitted smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol, both violations of his release agreement.

A subsequent test on Feb. 23 was positive for marijuana use and an April 1 test was positive for alcohol.

After the positive alcohol test, Love told a release officer he did not know what would have caused the test to show he had consumed alcohol. The next day, he admitted having “a couple of beers with my friends.”

Love does not have any previous arrests in Idaho for violent crimes, according to online court records.

Wendy J. Olson, U.S. Attorney for the District of Idaho, talks generally about hate crime laws. What makes these crimes unique is that they are directed at whole groups of people, she said.