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Fight over $20 leads to hate crime charges

GUTHRIE, Okla. - A friendship between neighbors took a nasty turn and resulted in one being charged with a hate crime, all over $20.

Sylva Hinton said she’s taken care of her neighbor, 75-year-old Jerry Heilman, for more than two years without asking for anything in return.

“We used to go down to the pantry and get his groceries, everything,” Hinton said. “I’d go down there to cook for him, clean his house, like I said nurse him up and everything.”

But now she said that bridge has been burned. It happened when he offered to pay for some stomach medicine for her if she would also buy him cigarettes, and he gave her a $20 bill for it all. She said she would give him change the next morning.

But he said she didn’t return it quickly enough, and he came to her house looking for the money.

She told police she was in the shower when he came over, so when she didn’t answer the door, he knocked on her window, startling her.

“He was knocking on my window.” Hinton said. “I’m not a thief, you know? And I don’t appreciate being treated like that. Like I said, I’ve been helping Jerry out for the last two and a half years and that’s not acceptable.”

When she went outside to talk to him, she said he started yelling.

“I’m like, ‘Oh no, Jerry, you have to back up, you know, get away from my door before I call the authorities,’” Hinton said.

She said she tried to give him back the $20 because she hadn’t yet gone to the store, but he wouldn’t take it, calling her the n-word instead.

When they crossed paths the next day, she said he took it a step further.

“He said, ‘Move out of my damn way f****** n*****, I’ll shoot your ass,’” Hinton said, “and i’m like whoa.”

Hinton said she believes he has a gun, and feeling threatened, she reluctantly reported her former friend to the police.

“You can’t threaten people, that’s not ok, that’s unacceptable,” Hinton said.

News 4 spoke to Heilman as well, and in his version she was the one who flipped out when he came for the money.

“She opened the door and went berserk on me,” Heilman said.

He said he never threatened to shoot her.

“i did not threaten her one way or another,” Heilman said. “All I told her was to take the $20 and stick it up her n***** a**. I am guilty of that and that’s all.”

Heilman was charged with a hate crime and ordered to appear in court later this month.