A 27-year-old truck driver accused of slashing the neck of a Black man in an unprovoked attack was handed a 16-year prison sentence in connection with the incident.
According to The Associated Press, Nolan Levi Strauss, who was charged with a federal hate crime involving an attempt to kill, was slapped with the sentence on Thursday after he pleaded guilty to the December 2019 attack. The victim, identified as Ronnell Hughes, almost died as a result of the attack and had to undergo emergency surgery. He sustained injuries on his jugular vein and thyroid cartilage and had to undergo months of physical therapy to get his voice back and also regain movement in his neck and arm.
And though Strauss’ lawyer told the court the attack was triggered as a result of a manic episode that was caused by the accused not taking his mental health medication, prosecutors argued the incident was racially motivated.
Strauss allegedly stabbed Hughes in the neck at an Arby’s restaurant around the Idaho border. During the attack, Hughes had to get physical with Strauss in an attempt to defend himself. Strauss was later restrained by workers at the truck stop.
And when an employee asked Strauss why he came after Hughes, prosecutors said he replied saying, “Because he was Black and I don’t like Black people.” The accused man also told investigators the attack was racially motivated and spoke about his hate for Black people after he was arrested.
Hughes said he had no idea he’ll be attacked by Strauss as “he snuck up behind” him while he was seated.“I don’t have any enemies and for someone to just sneak up on me and try to take my life from me … I’m angry, somebody I don’t even know,” the 49-year-old Black man told the court.
Strauss, who also admitted the attack was racially motivated during his trial, apologized for the incident. “I’m extremely sorry for what I did. I wouldn’t do that in my right state of mind,” the 27-year-old said. “I’m happy that he survived.”