Charlottesville attacker sentenced for beating black man at white supremacist rally

Daniel Borden is one of four men convicted of brutal attack which was shared on social media

The New York Times/January 9, 2019

By Christina Caron

Daniel Borden, one of four men convicted of beating a black man at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison.

In May, Borden entered a plea acknowledging there was enough evidence to convict him but he did not acknowledge guilt for taking part in the malicious wounding of DeAndre Harris at the “Unite the Right” rally. After a months-long postponement, he received a 20-year sentence earlier this week, with all but three years and 10 months of it suspended.

The 20-year-old was one of six men who surrounded and attacked Mr Harris, 20 at the time, in a parking garage on 12 August 2017, beating him with metal pipes and wooden boards. Mr Harris was left with a broken wrist and a head wound that required staples. The beating was captured in a video that spread widely on social media.

Two of the six men remain unidentified. Of the four who were arrested, Borden was the last man to be sentenced.

The three others — Jacob Scott Goodwin, Alex Michael Ramos, and Richard W Preston — were sentenced in August of last year. Goodwin, 24, was sentenced to serve eight years in prison; Ramos, 35, received a sentence of six years; and Preston, 53, who was described as a Ku Klux Klan leader, was sentenced to four years in prison for firing a gun at the rally.

Borden, who is white, was initially supposed to be sentenced in October 2018, but the judge rescheduled the sentencing for January after Borden declined to speak with probation officers and his lawyer, Michael J Hallahan II, asked to bring character witnesses to a sentencing hearing.

Mr Hallahan could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Television station WVIR reported Borden’s parents attended the sentencing. His father insisted his son was innocent and Borden’s mother asked the court to consider that Borden had learning issues.

Borden told the court he was remorseful and was not a bigot, and he apologised to Mr Harris and to the people of Charlottesville, WVIR said.

Joseph Platania, the commonwealth’s attorney for Charlottesville and the senior-assistant commonwealth’s attorney, Nina-Alice Antony, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr Platania said, “As with all prosecutions surrounding the 12 August 2017, attack of DeAndre Harris, this office is hopeful that today’s outcome brings some measure of solace and closure to him and the community at large.”

In March 2018, Mr Harris himself was acquitted of assault in connection with an incident that took place moments before he was attacked. He had intervened in a scuffle after a friend tried to yank a Confederate flag away from a marcher, Harold Crews.

A complaint by Mr Crews, a state chairman of the neo-Confederate group League of the South, eventually led the Charlottesville Police Department to issue a warrant for Mr Harris’ arrest.

The 2017 Charlottesville rally drew white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members who marched in protest of the city’s plan to remove a statue memorialising Confederate general Robert E Lee. Counter-demonstrators gathered in opposition. It ended in violence and death.

At one point, a man drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one woman, Heather D Heyer, 32, and injuring dozens of others. The driver, James Fields Jr, was convicted of first-degree murder, and a jury recommended in December that he spend the rest of his life in prison.

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