Jury ends Day 1 of deliberating in Ohio Amish case

By the Associated Press | September 13, 2012 | 6:33 PM EDT

An Amish man waits for others to emerge from a taxi before entering the U.S. courthouse in Cleveland Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. Inside a jury is hearing closing arguments in a federal hate crimes trial involving 16 members of a breakaway Amish group who planned or took part in beard and hair cutting attacks last year because of disputes involving their bishop, Sam Mullet, and other Amish people who criticized his ways and accused him of leading a cult. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

CLEVELAND (AP) — Jurors have ended their first day of deliberations without a verdict in the trial of 16 people accused of hate crimes in hair- and beard-cutting attacks against fellow Amish in Ohio.

The jury began considering charges Thursday morning in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.

The members of a breakaway Amish settlement are accused of hate crimes in what federal prosecutors say were attacks motivated by religious differences. They say the defendants cut off Amish men's beards and women's hair because the hair carries spiritual significance in their faith.

Defense attorneys acknowledge that the hair-cuttings took place but contend that prosecutors are overreaching by calling them hate crimes. They told jurors to use common sense in deciding the verdict.

All the defendants could face lengthy prison terms if convicted.