A North Dakota man who admitted to assaulting two Black girls during an altercation in 2021 was sentenced to two years in prison last Monday. According to The Forum, police said 74-year-old Larry Wayne Baldner used a racial slur during the incident.
He was handed the prison sentence after pleading guilty to aggravated assault. The September 2021 confrontation between Baldner and the two Black children happened on a shared driveway of a duplex the White man was staying in. The criminal complaint stated that a group of children was playing basketball in the driveway when Baldner told them to leave his property after encountering them.
In the wake of the incident, an 11-year-old girl told police that the children were playing on the driveway as they had been given the go-ahead to do so. The girl, who was also a neighbor, was slapped in the face by Baldner during the confrontation, the complaint stated. The convicted White man is said to have also used a racial slur, which he however, denied.
The girl’s sister was also involved in the altercation. Besides slapping the 11-year-old, Baldner also got hold of the child’s hair and neck and also choked her, the complaint stated. Prosecutors also said the girl’s sister was struck in the face by Baldner.
In a sentencing brief, prosecutor Joshua Traiser stated that Baldner allowed his anger to get the best of him, adding that he did not behave as an adult during the confrontation. Traiser also wrote that Baldner bullied the girl by taking advantage of his size.
“Baldner unnecessarily belittled the children by using racial epithets at the time of his attack,” Traiser wrote, per The Forum. “A significant term of incarceration is necessary to hold Baldner accountable and to send a message that this court and this community takes racialized violence seriously.”
Asking the court for a lighter sentence, Baldner’s attorney, Erica Skogen Hovey, wrote that her client erred by assuming the children were not supposed to play basketball in the driveway. Hovey also highlighted contradicting reports that showed Baldner acted in self-defense.
Hovey stated that a deep brain stimulation device had been inserted in Baldner’s brain, adding that authorities did not rule out if his actions were partly caused by his condition. The brief also stated that a neuropsychological evaluation Baldner underwent highlighted gradual memory loss that may have played a part in the incident.
The brief also claimed Baldner was heavily provoked. “Mr. Baldner could have reasonably believed that he was legally justified to use force to defend himself and his property against danger of imminent unlawful bodily injury or to prevent or terminate an unlawful entry or trespass in or upon his premises,” Hovey wrote.
However, Traiser stated that though Baldner took responsibility for what he did, a pre-sentence investigation implied he had no regrets. “Baldner repeatedly minimizes his own conduct and attempts to shift blame to the victims,” Traiser wrote.