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Tankovich trial begins today

| April 12, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - The jury trial for three brothers accused of racially harassing a Hispanic family in August begins today.

Ira Gino Tankovich, 48, William Michael Tankovich, 49, and Frank James Tankovich, 46, are all charged with conspiracy to commit malicious harassment. The latter two also face malicious harassment - or hate crime - charges.

Jury selection will begin at 9 this morning, while opening arguments will likely begin Tuesday, Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney Barry McHugh said.

The trial stems from an Aug. 16 incident in which the Tankovich brothers allegedly confronted Kenneth Requena at his home near 19th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Coeur d'Alene and threatened him due to Requena's race.

Kootenai County 1st District Judge John Luster declared a mistrial on the case two weeks ago, after the prosecution played a recording of a 911 call where the caller described the confrontation as potentially racially motivated.

A malicious harassment charge forces the prosecution to first prove that Requena was threatened, and then that the threat was racially motivated, the judge said.

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