A man was sentenced Wednesday to serve four years in prison for beating up one of his friends, who had called him a racial slur, in a Juneau apartment last April.
Surrounded by supporters in the courtroom gallery, Marcos y Galindo, 27, stood up in front of Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg and offered a public apology to the man he hit, identified in court documents as Christopher Davenport.
“Nobody deserves to be hit the way I hit that guy,” Galindo said. “... I take full responsibility for everything.”
A former MS-13 gang member in California, Galindo explained that he has left that lifestyle behind, pointing to the facial tattoos that he had lasered off. But he said it seems as if each time he takes two steps forward, he takes a step back.
“I was 19 years old the last time I was convicted of a crime,” he said. “I thought I put all this behind me, I thought I was completely done with it.”
Davenport was found wandering downtown at about 4 a.m. on April 27, 2012, bleeding from the head, clothes soaked in blood, asking for an ambulance. He suffered lacerations to his head, and his right ear, which was almost lost.
When interviewed by police at the hospital, Davenport told police he was drinking Four Loko, a type of malt liquor, with Galindo and two of Galindo’s friends at Galindo’s apartment at Marine View. The assault took place after the two friends had left and it was just Galindo and Davenport in the apartment, Davenport told police.
“The last thing I remember is Marcos hitting me in the head with two closed hammer fist strikes,” Davenport said, according to the affidavit.
Davenport either passed out or was knocked out and woke up in the apartment about four hours later before staggering out of the apartment building to find help, police said.
Police found Galindo still inside the apartment sleeping on the couch and they interviewed him. Galindo said he didn’t know if he assaulted Davenport, but that Davenport had called him a “wetback” during the evening, the affidavit states.
“I don’t know why Chris would say this happened,” Galindo is quoted as telling police. “Maybe I did it. I don’t know. I don’t understand why I would do it.”
Galindo was charged with two counts of first-degree assault, a felony that can carry up to 20 years in prison, and one count of second-degree assault, a felony that can carry up to 10 years.
He pleaded guilty in December to the second-degree assault charge, and in exchange for his plea, prosecutors dismissed the other charges. Because he has a prior felony in California, he was presumptive to serve four to seven years in prison.
On Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp showed the judge pictures of the victim after the attack. The victim did not attend the hearing.
“It was certainly a serious felony level assault,” she said.
Galindo’s attorney Assistant Public Defender Eric Hedland said Galindo, who is from California and had recently moved to Juneau for work, has not lived a sheltered life and grew up a rough environment living by street and jail rules.
That’s not to make excuses for his behavior but to provide context for his violent reaction, Hedland said. But when Galindo is calm, he has much to offer, as evidenced by the people who appeared in court to support him, Hedland said.
“He wants to go to college and make something of his life,” Hedland said.
Galindo told the judge he blames himself for drinking that night when he should have known better.
“I turn into a classic case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” he said. “I don’t remember — I remember the night: us drinking, everybody having a good time. Next thing I know I’m taking a shower, taking bloody clothes off and falling asleep on the couch.”
He described the sentence as a wake-up call, especially since he has a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter now to take care of.
“This has been one big eye-opener,” he said. “For one night of drinking, I lost my fiancé, my daughter is 1,500 miles away and I’m losing four years of my life. Do I deserve it? Yeah, I deserve it 100 percent. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.”
He also said he read the pre-sentence report that a probation officer wrote about him, and he said he doesn’t want to be that person.
“I hated the person I was reading about,” he said. “This is a horrible person. I really believe I am not that person. ... Time for me to grow up.”
Looking at the pictures of Davenport’s bloodied face, which Pallenberg described as “swelled up like a beach ball,” Pallenberg remarked, “It’s an ugly crime. Those were some ugly pictures.”
He added, “It is two steps forward, one step back. This is a big step back.”
Still, the judge told Galindo that a person’s past does not define who they are.
“As a judge, I have to believe in the possibility of redemption, I have to believe that people can change,” Pallenberg said. “If I didn’t believe that, then all the things that the Constitution tells us that judges have to consider would be meaningless because the Constitution says courts are supposed to consider a sentence that will act as a deterrent. If you couldn’t deter people, if people couldn’t change and be deterred, then that would just be fiction. The Constitution says that judges are supposed to impose sentences based on the goal of rehabilitation. If people couldn’t be rehabilitated, then that would just be fiction. So I have to believe that people can change — because they can.”
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.