North Dakota Man Sentenced to 2 Years for Choking 11-Year-Old Black Girl Who Was Playing In His Driveway Argues He Was Provoked and Charges are ‘a Crock’

A 74-year-old man from North Dakota will spend two years in prison for assaulting two Black girls in his neighborhood.

Although the senior citizen has pleaded guilty to the crimes against the minors, the prosecution states that he still shifts the blame to the victims.

Larry Wayne Baldner, a resident of Fargo, will be incarcerated for 24 months after attacking his neighbors’ children on September 21, 2021.

White Man Chokes Girl Playing in Driveway
Larry Wayne Baldner (Photo: Cass County Jail)

Cass County Judge Susan Bailey accepted the prosecution’s recommended sentence of two years for Baldner, who previously pleaded guilty to aggravated assault (a Class C felony) and simple assault (a misdemeanor) of an 11-year-old girl and her sister, according to the Inforum.

The sentencing hearing took place on Monday, April 3.

Prosecutor Joshua Traiser argued that the defendant allowed his emotions to override his good sense during the attack, fueled by rage, he slapped two girls and choked one.

According to a criminal complaint, Baldner, a white man, came home and found an 11-year-old Black girl and four boys playing basketball in the driveway of the duplex he shares with the girl’s family. He ordered the kids to get off the property, but they refused.

The 11-year-old girl argued that she and her friends were playing on her family’s side of the property and believed they had the right to play in the area. When she told Baldner to get out of her face, he slapped her.

The young girl went to get her older sister, and when they returned shortly afterward to confront Baldner about the slap, the man reportedly grabbed the 11-year-old by the neck and hair. With her in his grip, he lifted the girl off the ground until her sister hit him in the face. This allowed the victim to break free from Baldner’s grasp, but it did not stop his violent behavior. He redirected his attention to the sister and slapped her across the face.

According to police reports, witnesses said that throughout the altercation, the much older white man hurled racial epithets at the girls.

After the incident, the Fargo Police Department released its Third Quarter Hate Crime Report, which included the incident between Baldner and the girls.

Valley News Alive reviewed the report and stated, “The FBI and US Attorney’s Office are currently reviewing this case for prosecution under federal hate crime statutes.”

During a hearing regarding this case, the prosecution argued that Baldner should have known better considering his age and size.

“Baldner unnecessarily belittled the children by using racial epithets at the time of his attack,” Traiser said in a written statement about why he should have received the two-year sentence. “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.”

Defense lawyer Erica Skogen Hovey countered, stating that her client should be sentenced to time served of three days and 90 days of house arrest with electronic home monitoring for the felony and misdemeanor charges, as she claimed that Baldner was acting in self-defense.

She noted that her client’s account of the day’s events was supported by one of the boys, who said that the 11-year-old girl pushed him and that other kids attacked Baldner. Other witnesses reported that during the melee, a different boy hit Baldner in the head with a ball, and one account states that an adult had to stop the girl from throwing a landscaping rock at the man.

“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,” Skogen Hovey wrote.

Her client also denied using racist language during the incident.

Traiser notes that while Baldner admitted to assaulting the girls, he still has not taken responsibility for his actions. Because he believes he acted within reason, Baldner called the charges he faced “a crock” during a pre-sentence investigation.

“Baldner repeatedly minimizes his own conduct and attempts to shift blame to the victims,” Traiser said.

The judge agreed and sentenced him using the prosecution’s suggested penalty.

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