COEUR d’ALENE — A 29-year-old white man who made racist comments to a black man —then got punched out cold — was sentenced by the court Friday.
But what really hurt, was the “punishment” that was dished out by the court of poetic justice.
Daren C. Abbey, who currently lives near Kalispell, Mont., still owes $30,000 in medical bills from the punch thrown by Marlon L. Baker, who at the time of the incident was wearing a Spokane Boxing Club Champion T-shirt.
Abbey got knocked out with one punch after harassing Baker at J.D.’s bar then following Baker 300 yards to Baker’s campsite, where the damaging blow was dealt. Witnesses said Abbey used racial slurs against Baker.
Abbey admitted to consuming a massive amount of alcohol on the day of the incident, July 3 of last year. When he woke up, Abbey told authorities he thought he got hit with a brick.
Abbey served about six months in jail before agreeing to be sentenced on the charge of malicious harassment.
He has three metal plates in his head because of the facial fractures he suffered. He also suffers from recurring headaches.
His defense attorney, Bradford Chapman, asked 1st District Court Judge Benjamin Simpson to consider that “punishment.”
Chapman declined to comment after the sentencing. Abbey was immediately taken into custody.
According to a Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department report detailing the incident, “Baker stated Abbey told him ‘blacks’ were not welcome in Bayview and he had better leave before something happened.”
The sheriff’s report said Abbey had several white supremacist tattoos on his chest, arms and neck.
Chapman told the court that Abbey was susceptible to “certain ideologies” while serving time for multiple prior criminal offenses.
He said those ideas are sometimes adopted “as a matter of survival,” when behind bars.
Chapman added, “He’s not the person depicted in the black and white” of the case file and investigation reports.
“This case has cost Mr. Abbey a lot,” he said.
He acknowledged Abbey made inappropriate comments, but said, “Mr. Abbey never touched Mr. Baker.”
Abbey told the court he first spotted Baker allegedly walking into the women’s restroom, multiple times, at the bar.
He said he talked with Baker initially to see if he wanted to play pool.
Abbey said he was in Bayview for a vacation, resting up from working the oil fields in North Dakota.
Recently, he has been working full time for a construction company, making $15 per hour. He was released from jail after entering an Alford plea in December to the felony malicious harassment charge.
He broke down crying at one point during his sentencing hearing. He arrived at court with his mother.
“I’m just trying to work now, and move on,” he told Simpson.
The judge said, “This is a troubling case.”
He noted Abbey’s “substantial” criminal history, and acknowledged Chapman’s point that Abbey adopted some of his racial views during his time in prison.
In this case, however, Simpson said, “The conduct was shocking.”
He ordered Abbey to serve three to five years in prison, but will "retain jurisdiction" for up to a year.
Abbey must immediately spend the retained jurisdiction time going through an Idaho Department of Correction rehabilitation program.
If he performs well enough in that treatment program, Simpson could release Abbey on probation.
If the judge isn’t satisfied with his performance in the program, he could impose the sentence.
Abbey was given credit for the time served following his arrest.