Citing lack of cooperation, judge delays sentencing for Daniel Borden in 'Unite the Right' beating
Daniel Patrick Borden should have found out his fate Monday.
Instead, he’ll have to wait until January to learn what sentence will be imposed for his role in the beating of DeAndre Harris during the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.
Charlottesville Circuit Judge Richard Moore reset sentencing for the 20-year-old Borden for Jan. 7, 2019. Moore cited Borden’s unwillingness to speak with probation officers conducting a pre-sentence investigation, as well as a request from Borden’s lawyer Michael Hallahan to bring multiple character witnesses to a sentencing hearing, as cause for postponing the hearing.
“This is a serious case. This is an important case,” Moore said. “It’s a significant case.”
Hallahan said Borden wanted an attorney present before he spoke with anyone from the legal system, which is why he refused to talk to a probation officer for a pre-sentence report, which is used to help determine if someone should be sent to prison and, if so, for how long.
“I’m going to stop short of ordering the defendant to give any information,” Moore said.
“He’s very young,” Hallahan responded. “He’s just unsure of what to do.”
Borden, who appeared in court shackled at the hands and feet, is one of four people who have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to violence stemming from the racist “Unite the Right” rally. He entered an Alford plea — meaning he acknowledged enough evidence to convict him without acknowledging guilt — in May to a charge of malicious wounding.
The four, along with two others awaiting trial, have been deemed “political prisoners” by members of the racist “alt-right.” Fundraisers and rallies have been held in their names. But so far, none of the court hearings have drawn attention from or attendance by those charged with crimes.
Outside Borden’s hearing held across the street from a park bearing the statue of Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, as with the others, there were no protesters, no one calling for their freedom and no sign that someone charged after “Unite the Right” was inside awaiting word on his future.
Jacob Scott Goodwin, a 24-year-old neo-Nazi sympathizer from Ward, Arkansas, received an eight-year prison sentence, with two more years suspended, in August for his role in the beating of the 21-year-old Harris, who was prone on the ground during much of the attack.
A judge also handed down a six-year sentence for 34-year-old Alex Michael Ramos of Jackson, Georgia, just hours after Goodwin’s sentencing. Ramos, a onetime member of a militia group called the Georgia Security Force III%, ran from across a street to kick and stomp on Harris as the beating went on. Ramos also faces three years of probation that could be converted to more prison time if he violates the terms of the supervised release.
Both sentences were in line with what the jury in each case recommended.
Goodwin wore a military helmet and carried a large shield during the attack on Harris, captured on video in a parking garage next to the Charlottesville Police Department. Ramos joined the attack after Harris was on the ground. Two others have been arrested and charged for taking part in the attack.
A League of the South member, 50-year-old Tyler Watkins Davis of Middlesburg, Florida, is scheduled for arraignment Oct. 4. He was arrested in January. Three other assailants shown on a video of the attack have yet to be identified by police.
Police say Harris was attacked by a group of white supremacists in a parking garage and beaten with pipes, wood slabs and poles.
Davis, who is heavily tattooed, can be seen in a video of Harris being beaten wearing a “Boonie Hat” and all-black clothing with a League of the South logo on the shirt.
Davis is a charter member of the D.B. Coleman chapter of the Florida League of the South based in Middleburg.
A Maryland Klan leader, Richard Wilson Preston, was sentenced in August to four years in prison for firing a gun into a crowd during the melee that stemmed from the rally.
The assault of Harris came on a day when white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other racists overtook downtown Charlottesville. One neo-Nazi sympathizer, 21-year-old James Alex Fields, Jr., of Ohio, is charged with first-degree murder. Police say Fields plowed his car into a crowd near downtown, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
Multiple members of Borden’s family attended Monday’s hearing, including his father, 55-year-old Rick J. Borden, a retired Air Force pilot. Rick Borden has written letters to Moore denouncing the idea that his son was charged with beating Harris.
In a letter written in March, Rick Borden blamed the attack on Harris and said his family includes a Columbian national, residents of the Dominican Republic and a “Chinese Communist National.”
“As such WE WILL NOT ACCEPT or CONDONE BEING CALLED RACISTS, WHITE NATIONALISTS, KKK or NAZIS by the self-victimized ANTIFA NUTCASES,” Rick Borden wrote.
In court, Rick Borden and other family members were subdued as Hallahan described to Moore how the family wanted to have multiple character witnesses available for a sentencing hearing with the hope of painting a picture of Daniel Borden for the judge.
Once Moore delayed the sentencing, Daniel Borden, his round face framed by short hair and bushy sideburns, stood up, looked at his family and gave a half-smile and wave. A family member called out his name twice, but Borden had already turned away with a deputy, headed back to the Albemarle County Jail.