Round 2 for the racist skinhead who didn’t read the fine print before assaulting a black man went like this: A no-contest guilty plea to a felony charge of malicious harassment.
In Round 1, as you may recall, Daren Christopher Abbey was laid out flat last summer, complete with a black eye, outside a Bayview, Idaho, bar after yelling racial slurs at and then assaulting Marlon L. Baker.
As Abbey was being led away in handcuffs after the assault, deputies said the 26-year-old muttered, “What? You’re arresting a white man?”
At about the same moment — too late to save himself from his own stupidity — Abbey finally saw what was printed on the back side of the T-shirt of the man he’d just assaulted: “Spokane Boxing Club champion.”
Abbey, who suffered facial fractures, told deputies he thought he’d been hit with a brick, but witnesses confirmed it was simple a one-fist punch to the head, delivered in self-defense after Baker was assaulted.
The encounter occurred on the July Fourth weekend at the JD's bar on the scenic waterfront of Lake Pend Oreille in North Idaho.
A sheriff’s report says Abbey — a transient skinhead whose body is covered with racist tattoos — confronted Baker, a 46-year-old African-American from Spokane Valley.
Abbey told Baker he didn’t belong in the bar or in Bayview because of the color of his skin, then ordered him to “leave before something happened.” The sheriff’s report said Abbey “poked Baker in the chest.”
As Baker left the bar, trying to avoid a confrontation, Abbey followed, continuing the racial taunts, as witnesses watched. The sheriff’s report said Baker felt threatened and instinctively punched Abbey in self-defense, briefly knocking him out.
Abbey, from Sacramento, Calif., has been in the Kootenai County Jail in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, since his arrest on July 3.
Last Thursday in Kootenai County District Court in Coeur d’Alene, Abbey entered an Alford plea to malicious harassment. Defendants who enter such pleas aren’t directly admitting guilt, but conceding there’s enough evidence to convict them at trial. Abbey is now a convicted felon.
After accepting the plea, 1st District Court Judge Benjamin Simpson set sentencing for March 9, and released Abbey from jail. The crime of malicious harassment in Idaho carries a maximum term of five years in prison. A no-contact order is still in place to keep Abbey away from Baker.
Baker, who has received counseling support from the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations since the incident, declined comment about the outcome of the case. But long-time task force member Tony Stewart, who attended various court hearings with Baker, said the task force was pleased with the results.
“This is yet another victory of fairness and justice over the forces of bigotry, prejudice and hate,” Stewart said.
“During three decades of prosecution of hate crimes in Kootenai County, the perpetrators have either taken an Alford plea, pleaded guilty or were found guilty by a local jury in every hate crime that has made it through the courts for the final decision or resolution,” Stewart told Hatewatch. “This 100% guilty rate for these hate crimes sends a loud and clear message that we will not tolerate the victimization of our people by those who come to our county to engage in hate crimes.”