Judge refuses to release man jailed in racial attack Mentally weak man faulted for lack of remorse.

April 24, 1992|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

A Baltimore Circuit Court judge has rejected a mentally disabled man's request for release from prison, saying the man showed no "remorse" for a racially motivated attack that left the victim with brain damage.

Daniel Spencer Porter, 22, was sentenced last April to a five-year prison term in connection with a July 1990 incident in Highlandtown. The victim, Herbert Jennings, a black man, was chased into traffic and fell under the wheels of a truck, suffering brain damage. Porter was convicted of assault, reckless endangerment and racial harassment.

Yesterday, Porter and his attorney, Daniel J. Marcus, asked Judge Robert I. H. Hammerman for a sentence modification in light of the defendant's good conduct in prison.

Mr. Marcus also asked the judge to consider Porter's mental condition. Porter has tested just above the upper limit for mental retardation and has been treated for hyperactivity and psychiatric disorders since he was 6 years old.

"I have seen absolutely nothing to show any change of heart whatsoever," Judge Hammerman said of Porter, who sat silent throughout the hearing. "A missing ingredient to me is remorse."

The judge continued: "All that he did cannot just be completely laid off . . . because of his unfortunate background and because he is intellectually limited."

The attack occurred when Porter, along with a group of other men, began taunting Mr. Jennings as he walked along Eastern Avenue with his white girlfriend. As the men yelled racial slurs, Porter began chasing Mr. Jennings, 33.

Mr. Marcus proposed that Porter be taken out of prison and placed instead in the city's alternative-sentencing unit, which enables convicted criminals to re-enter society.

The program would assist Porter in finding a job and would have him on strict probation, Mr. Marcus said.

But Assistant State's Attorney Jack I. Lesser opposed any release, saying that a psychiatric report on Porter shows that he has tendencies to be impulsive, overemotional and even explosive.

"I think he's entitled to the chance to prove himself," Mr. Marcus said.

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