A hate crime victim in Utah says he’s “extremely disappointed” that a federal judge gave a stun-gun assailant only nine months in prison – less than one-fourth the sentence recommended by prosecutors.
Mark Olic Porter, convicted by a jury in March of a federal hate crime, delivered what the Salt Lake Tribune described as a “racist rant” in court when he was sentenced late last month by before U.S. District Judge Dee Benson.
The 59-year-old defendant told the court that “African-Americans are pimps, drug dealers, violent and dangerous,” the newspaper reported.
The judge told the defendant he’s a racist, but that it was his actions, not his speech, that landed him in trouble with the law.
Prosecutors recommended that Porter, who has 15 prior convictions, serve between 37 and 46 months in prison, but the judge sentenced him to nine months. With credit for time served, Porter will be eligible for release by this weekend.
In November 2016, at an apartment complex in Draper, Utah, Porter began yelling racial slurs at a first-grade boy riding a scooter because his skin was black. When the boy’s father heard the yelling and went to get his son, Porter shouted, “You and your n----- son can get out of here.”
Seconds later, the boy’s father was assaulted on his neck by an electrified Zap Cane and “felt pain that pretty much incapacitated me,” he testified at trial.
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.
Porter was convicted of using force and threats to injure, intimidate and interfere with an African-American man because of his race and occupancy in the apartment complex.
The crime victim released a statement saying he and his family “are extremely disappointed in the judge’s decision” to only sentence the attacker to nine months in jail, calling the sentence “sad and disheartening.”
The victim said his son refused to sleep in his own bed, would not go outside to play and continues to experience fear. The family moved from the apartment complex after the racially motivated crime.
“Mr. Porter is a violent and hateful individual who has deep-rooted erroneous beliefs,” the crime victim said in his statement. “We hope that no one else becomes a victim at the hands of Mr. Porter in the future.”
In a sentencing recommendation, prosecutors J. Drew Yeates and Rose E. Gibson said Porter’s conduct constituted aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon.
After being arrested, in a recorded jail phone call, Porter laughed about the circumstances.
“This defendant has demonstrated that he believes he can commit a hate crime and escape punishment,” the prosecutors wrote in their court filing.
A sentence of 37 to 46 months would “promote respect for the law by sending a clear message to this defendant that the Court does not condone the … commission of a hate crime.”