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Appeals Court Overturns Five-Year Sentence In Fullerton Hate Crime Case, Making Defendant Eligible For 38 Years To Life Sentence

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) -- A Mission Viejo man's five-year state prison sentence for a hate crime has been overturned amid concerns from prosecutors and the Orange County District Attorney that the sentence was too short given his violent past.

Tyson Theodore Mayfield admitted to a hate crime after threatening a pregnant Black woman and using racist terms toward her at a Fullerton bus stop in September 2018.

A panel of judges on the California Court of Appeals found that the trial court "abused its discretion in offering him (Mayfield) a reduced sentence'' after Mayfield's guilty plea.

The panel stated that Mayfield has "an extensive criminal record that includes multiple acts of violence against racial minorities."

According to the Orange County District Attorney's office, Mayfield approached a man of Filipino and Turkish descent in September 2017 in a parking lot to borrow a lighter. He became agitated that the man didn't have a lighter, called him a racial slur and punched the victim multiple times. Mayfield was later convicted of one misdemeanor count of hate crime assault causing injury.

Mayfield was also sentenced to 9 years in state prison for a 2005 mayhem conviction for making racist comments toward a woman and her boyfriend at a gas station after they declined to give him change. He punched the male victim repeatedly in the face, which required eight stitches, according to the D.A.'s office.

The panel of judges also noted that in the current case, Mayfield threatened to make the pregnant Black woman "drop" her unborn baby while she was waiting at the bus station.

As a third-striker, Mayfield was facing a mandatory sentence of 25-years-to-life under California's Three Strikes Law, until Judge Roger B. Robbins dismissed his 2005 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, which would clear the way for a shorter sentence in the 2018 hate crime case.

Due to sentencing enhancements, Mayfield was eligible for 38 years and four months to life in state prison.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, who had attended several court hearings in the case, remarked that Mayfield has swastika and white supremacist tattoos, telling the court that there is "just no question he is a racist.''

Along with prosecutors who opposed the five-year sentence, Spitzer also questioned if the sentence would "protect society against someone so evil.''

Members of the NAACP, the Orange County Human Relations Commission and the Anti-Defamation League also attended court hearings in support of the victim.

The appeals court decision to overturn the sentence moves the case back to the trial court, where Mayfield remains eligible for a 38 years to life sentence if convicted on all charges in the attack.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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