A self-proclaimed skinhead has been sentenced to nearly nine years in prison for severely beating an African-American man in Salt Lake City last year.
David Lance Gardner, 43, was sentenced on May 24, 2006, for his role the racially motivated attack; he previously pleaded guilty and struck a deal with prosecutors to serve six years for his crime. U.S. District Judge David Sam, however, sentenced him to nine years, saying that “hate crimes are not going to be tolerated by this court.” Gardner was also ordered to pay $22,000 in restitution.
Gardner and two co-defendants, Robby Wayne Baalman, 22, and Keith Wayne Cotter, 25, had been drinking at various bars on the evening of the attack last March when they spotted the victim riding his bicycle, according to prosecutors.
The three men allegedly knocked the 52-year-old victim off his bike, beat him and then struck him with a beer bottle. The victim was hospitalized and later released.
In his plea hearing, Baalman said Gardner encouraged him and Cotter to assault the victim as part of an initiation into the American Front, a racist skinhead organization.
Baalman was sentenced in March to 57 months in prison and ordered to pay $22,000 in restitution. Cotter pleaded guilty in January 2005 and is awaiting sentencing. A Utah Department of Corrections spokesman said prison records list Cotter as being a suspected white supremacist gang member.
Gardner’s violent past includes in incident in 1978 in which he pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection to a beating in Los Angeles that left a Hispanic man dead. Gardner, then a teenager, initially served 180 days in jail. After violating his parole, he served two more years for the crime.