A former Portland man who argued that racial bias was a factor when a Superior Court judge sentenced him to 38 years in prison for murdering his roommate five years ago, has lost his appeal to have his sentence reduced.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled Tuesday that Daudoit Butsitsi, who immigrated to the United States from the war torn country of the Democratic Republic of Congo, failed to demonstrate that the lower court had made an error and upheld his sentence. He is currently serving his sentence at the Maine State Prison in Warren.

Supreme Court justices admitted the lower court took into consideration Butsitsi’s upbringing and exposure to violence, factors that his attorney argued played into the slaying of his roommate 24-year-old Serge Mulongo. But, the state’s highest court could find no evidence that the judge was biased.

“The court appears to have carefully and thoughtfully weighed all of the considerations presented to it by Butsitsi, the state and the victim’s family and community. Although the court did reference some of these considerations in delivering its sentence, the court’s statements in no way suggest that the sentence was based on Butsitsi’s race or national origin, or that the sentencing judge was biased against Butsitsi,” the Supreme Court said in its published opinion.

In fact, the judges said an appropriate sentence was given for the crime that was committed.

“The court did just that (consider Butsitsi’s background) and sentenced Butsitsi to a final term of imprisonment, for what was a planned, ambush murder,” the justices stated.

According to court records, Butsitsi shot and killed Mulongo at an apartment building in Portland on the night of Feb. 10, 2010. Prior to that fatal encounter, the two men had fought over the course of the day, including two physical confrontations.

Records state that Butsitsi waited in the hallway of the building where the men shared an apartment. As Mulongo left the building with two friends, Butsitsi shoved past one man and shot Mulongo six times. At his jury trial, Butsitsi argued that he shot Mulongo in self defense after allegedly seeing the victim pull out what Butsitsi thought was a gun.

The jury found the 29-year-old guilty of murder and he was sentenced to 38 years in prison. The minimum mandatory sentence is 25 years. The state’s prosecutor asked for a sentence of 45 years.

Mulongo’s family asked the judge for a life sentence to punish him and to send a message to the African-American community.

Butsitsi, who sought the minimum 25-year sentence, argued that his exposure to violence and civil unrest in the Congo where he lived until the age of 13 affected him psychologically and affected his reaction to perceived threats of violence.