Paola man sentenced to 27 months for hate crime against Black boy

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A Paola man was sentenced Wednesday to just more than two years in federal prison for threatening a Black boy with a knife and telling him he was in a “white town.”

Colton Donner, 27, was driving through a residential area of Paola — a town roughly 32 miles southeast of Lawrence in Miami County, with a population of about 6,000 — on Sept. 11, 2019, when he saw the victim walking on the sidewalk, according to court documents.

Donner “stopped, got out of the car, and approached the victim while brandishing a knife. Donner threatened the victim, yelled racial slurs, and told the victim that Paola is a ‘white town,'” according to a news release from the Department of Justice.

A grand jury in November 2020 indicted Donner on one count of interference with fair housing, which is a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. He pleaded guilty to the charge on Feb. 10. As part of the plea, a second charge of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon was dismissed.

On Wednesday, District Judge Daniel D. Crabtree sentenced Donner to 27 months in prison, followed by 18 months of parole.

He will serve his time at the federal prison in Florence, Colorado, “to facilitate family connections as the defendant believes that this facility will be closest to family based on the expected security classification,” according to his case file.

“Racially-motivated threats and violence have no place in our society today,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in the DOJ news release. “This sentence should send a strong message to perpetrators of violent hate-fueled acts that they will be held accountable for their crimes. Everyone deserves to feel safe and secure living in their communities, without being subject to racially-motivated crimes seeking to drive them from their homes or neighborhoods.”

Court documents do not indicate the victim’s exact age, referring to him only as a “juvenile.”

This case was investigated by the Paola Police Department and the Kansas City Field Office of the FBI, according to the DOJ, and the case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tristam Hunt of the District of Kansas and Trial Attorney Anita Channapati of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section. The grand jury was convened under former U. S. Attorney Stephen McAllister.

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