TEXARKANA, Texas — A white man accused of physically assaulting a 14-year-old boy because of his race is scheduled for jury selection in April at the Bowie County courthouse in New Boston, Texas.
Charles Mitchell Patton, 25, who goes by Mitch, appeared Monday afternoon with Texarkana lawyer Joe Tyler for arraignment before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell. Tyler entered pleas of not guilty on Patton's behalf to an indictment charging him with injury to a child.
Patton allegedly shouted racial epithets and slurs as the teen walked down the street near his home mid-afternoon July 28 before punching him in the face. The teen told police he does not know Patton and had never seen him before.
First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp told the court that her office is seeking to enhance the punishment range Patton faces under the Texas Hate Crimes Act. Crisp said a second enhancement in punishment is being sought because Mitchell has a prior felony conviction.
Injury to a child is typically punishable by two to 10 years in prison under Texas law. The double enhancement means Patton could face five to 99 years or life in prison.
Tidwell scheduled Patton's case for a pretrial hearing next month and for jury selection April 20.
Patton allegedly stopped his pickup the afternoon of July 28 as he traveled along the 200 block of Center Street in New Boston, Texas, 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 made racially offensive statements before removing 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.
Patton also pleaded not guilty Monday to an indictment charging him with possession of marijuana, 4 ounces to five pounds. The offense is punishable by six months to two years in a state jail.
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.