Man gets sentence of five years in jail for racial attack

April 02, 1991|By Sheridan Lyons

Daniel Spencer Porter has shown little remorse for almost killing a black man he chased into traffic in Highlandtown last July, a Baltimore Circuit Court judge said yesterday. But after receiving a five-year sentence, Porter wept openly as he sat handcuffed on a bench awaiting transportation to prison.

"I'm sorry this ever happened. I'm truly sorry, your honor," mumbled Porter, 21, of the 3300 block of Leverton Avenue, before he was sentenced on his Jan. 29 conviction for assault, reckless endangerment and racial harassment in the July 19 incident on Eastern Avenue.

Noting that the blond and baby-faced defendant's IQ was just above the line for mental retardation, Chief Judge Robert I. H. Hammerman said that if Porter had a "perfect" record in prison for the next six months, he would consider an early release for placement in an alternate sentencing program. In all, the judge imposed a 15-year sentence but suspended all but five years of it. Upon release, Porter must continue the care he has received for psychological disorders since he was 6 years old.

The victim, 33-year-old Herbert Jennings, also shed tears after yesterday's sentencing, but they were apparently tears of frustration over what Mr. Jennings considered to be a light sentence for the man who tormented him.

"He won. He took my eye, he took part of my body, broke most of my bones. Hey: He won," Mr. Jennings said of Porter. Mr. Jennings said Porter should have received "28-plus" -- more than the maximum possible 28 years.

On the night of the attack, Mr. Jennings recalled, he was happy in his job as a cook at Haussner's restaurant and was walking with his new girlfriend, Jennifer Gonzalez. Today, he lives with his mother and is blind in one eye, has suffered brain damage and lost partial use of one arm and undergoes intensive therapy every day.

"I wake up in a cold sweat," he said of his nightmare that he was lying again on Eastern Avenue, "seeing the truck lights just before they hit me."

While Porter's defense attorney, Daniel J. Marcus, argued that prison would accomplish nothing, prosecutor Jack I. Lesser asked for a sentence of at least 10 years. The prosecutor said Porter was "explosive," dangerous and aggressive even though he had no criminal record.

Further, Mr. Lesser said that while Porter apparently didn't belong to any hate-groups, "If the defendant does not receive a substantial sentence today . . . the skinheads and groups like that will get the wrong message." He asked the judge to tell them "we will not tolerate violent acts based on racial hatred."

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