A man who “went after a first-grade boy because his skin was black” has been convicted by a U.S. District Court jury in Utah of using a stun-gun to carry out a federal hate crime.
At trial, witnesses testified that Mark Olic Porter yelled at the boy, “Get out of here, n-----,” as the child rode his scooter around a courtyard at Adagio, a 500-unit apartment complex in Draper, Utah, a Salt Lake City suburb, in November 2016.
The boy’s father, Mike Waldvogel, testified he heard the yelling and came outdoors to get his son, then heard Porter yell, “You and your n----- son can get out of here.”
Seconds later as he passed Porter, Waldvogel said he was assaulted on his neck by an electrified Zap Cane and “felt pain that pretty much incapacitated me,” the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Porter fought with police before they arrested him on third-degree-felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor counts of assault against a police officer, interference with arresting officers and intoxication.
The state charges were dropped when federal authorities took over the investigation and obtained a grand jury indictment against Porter last September. He was convicted of using force and threats to injury, intimidate and interfere with an African-American man because of his race and occupancy in the apartment complex.
The 59-year-old defendant faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in May by U.S. District Judge Dee Benson.
Porter “did these terrible things because he hates black people and he didn’t want them living in his community,” Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Drew Yeates said in closing arguments.
“He went after a first-grade boy because his skin was black,” the prosecutor told the jury.
Defense attorneys argued to the jury that the incident was not racially motivated but was triggered because of tensions that exist in high-density housing.
Prosecutors rebutted that, calling witnesses who testified about Porter’s dislike of African Americans.
A leasing agent testified that Porter, when he moved in, asked how many black families lived at the complex. Later, when an apartment unit above his became vacant, maintenance workers testified, Porter told them not to move “any more n------ in there.”
And Porter’s neighbor testified that Porter had told her he wanted to “exterminate” all black people.
It took the jury only four hours to return the conviction. Afterwards, John Huber, the U.S. Attorney for Utah, applauded the outcome.
“This crime of hatred is one that cannot be tolerated at all in the state of Utah and the United States,” he said.
“Today, the jury spoke on behalf of the community, and their verdict of guilty sends a clear message to this defendant and other people who may act like him that in Utah, this is not welcome.”