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story.lead_photo.caption Charles Mitchell Patton

TEXARKANA, Texas — A white New Boston, Texas, man could face an enhanced punishment under the Texas Hate Crimes Act for allegedly assaulting an African American teen because of his race.

Charles Mitchell Patton, 25, who goes by Mitch, allegedly stopped his pickup the afternoon of July 28 as he traveled along the 200 block of Center Street in New Boston, according to a probable cause affidavit. Patton allegedly approached a 14-year-old African American boy, who lives in the area, as the teen walked down the street.

Patton allegedly shouted racial slurs.

Patton allegedly removed his shirt, revealing a chest tattoo of a swastika, before swinging at the boy with a closed fist. The boy reported that he was able to avoid Patton's first punch but the second landed on his face and caused a laceration in the boy's mouth.

Two other white men who were in the truck Patton drove reportedly got out of the truck "to get the suspect away from the juvenile," the affidavit states. The boy told police he had never seen Patton before and did not know him.

Patton was indicted this week by a Bowie County grand jury for injury to a child. The third-degree felony is typically punishable by two to 10 years in prison. However, First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp filed a notice in the case of the state's intent to use the Texas Hate Crimes Act and Patton's prior felony drug conviction to enhance the punishment range to five to 99 years or life in prison.

"Violation against selected groups within Texas has been recognized as a threat to the safety of Texans," the Texas Department of Public Safety website states.

Under Texas law, crimes motivated by a person's race, sexual orientation, religion or ethnicity may be deemed hate crimes and subject the perpetrator to an enhanced punishment.

Patton's bail is set at $75,000 in the injury to a child case. Patton is also being held on a parole violation warrant.

Patton is scheduled to appear later this month before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell. Texarkana lawyer Joe Tyler is listed as Patton's attorney in court records.

llarowe@texarkanagazette.com

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