White supremacist sentenced to life in prison for 2016 murder
More than two years ago, a white man chased down a young black man in a Jeep and killed him.
A judge sentenced that man, Russell Courtier, to life in prison for the racially motivated killing of 19-year-old Larnell Bruce Jr. He won’t have the possibility of parole for another 28 years.
According to the prosecution, on August 10, 2016, Courtier and Bruce got in a physical fight outside a convenience store in Gresham, Oregon, just outside of Portland.
Bruce tried to leave the area, but Courtier got into a Jeep to go after him. Authorities reviewed surveillance video showing Bruce trying to evade Courtier as he drove toward him.
Police responded to a call about a hit and run involving a pedestrian, and found Bruce suffering from “critical injuries,” the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office said. Bruce died of those injuries at a nearby hospital.
Courtier had a ‘racist desire to be a part of a “brotherhood”‘
Last month a jury found the 40-year-old Courtier guilty of murder, felony hit and run, and intimidation. In Oregon, intimidation is a hate crime.
Prosecutors argued that Courtier killed Bruce because of his skin color.
In a statement, prosecutor David Hannon said Courtier had no need to be part of the European Kindred gang, and his membership only “stemmed from his racist desire to be a part of a ‘brotherhood.'” Hannon called the life sentence appropriate because the jury found Courtier to be “motivated by his perception of Mr. Bruce’s race or the color of his skin.”
Last year, Courtier pleaded guilty to an attempted assault charge stemming from a 2015 bar fight. According to the police report, Courtier was playing pool late one night and a man, who was white, called Courtier a “fake Marine.” Angered, Courtier struck him with a billiard ball.
Courtier’s girlfriend, 37-year-old Colleen Hunt, pleaded guilty last month to a count of manslaughter, as well as aiding and abetting Courtier in Bruce’s murder. She admitted she let Courtier use her Jeep to chase Bruce down.
She received a 10-year sentence, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said.
Courtier’s defense attorney Kevin Sali declined to comment to CNN about the sentencing.
A judicial assistant to Judge Jerry Hodson, who presided over the case, also declined to comment.
CNN’s Samira Said contributed to this story.