Two Vermont teens are being charged with a hate crime and face up to five years in prison for allegedly spray painting antigay slogans on and slashing the tires of a pair of vehicles belonging to two men joined in a civil union.

16-year-old Melissa Gaboury pleaded not guilty to charges of hate-motivated unlawful mischief and unlawful trespass after police found a knife and spray paint underneath the backseat of her SUV, while her sister, Meghan Gaboury, 18, is still being sought by police.

According to WCAX News, the sisters are related to the one of the victims and targeted the men – Bob Driver and Dalton Flint – after they were evicted from the home they shared with another relative.

Following the eviction, the sisters, who have a record of juvenile behaviour issues, started having “increasingly volatile interactions” with the victims and violated no-trespass orders, according to the Associated Press.

“This had escalated over the summer, first verbal, then on property, now vandalise cars. My whole thought is what’s next?” Flint told WCAX News.

According to Vermont State Police Trooper Jay Riggen, officials decided to seek hate-crime charges against the sisters after speaking with them.

“Their tones with me were very conversational about it, referring to the homosexual population in really derogatory terms,” Riggen told the Associated Press. “They were very nonchalant about it.”

When they talked about certain antigay terms they had used, “you just get a sense from them that they were filled with a certain level of disgust if not hate,” he added. “It was pretty shocking, actually.”

Bryan Ochalla © 2007 GayWired.com; All Rights Reserved.