Sunday, July 22, 2007

11-year sentence in assault of man blinded by beer mug

11:27 AM MST on Friday, July 20, 2007

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- A Tucson man suspected of being a white supremacist has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for hitting a black man in the face with a beer mug.

Blake Joseph Edwards, 32, received the maximum sentence under terms of a plea agreement in Pima County Superior Court on Thursday.

Edwards pleaded guilty to assaulting Reginald Sampson, a North Carolina resident who was in Tucson in February 2006 on a business trip.

Sampson was picking out songs on a jukebox at Las Cazuelitas restaurant when Edwards assaulted him with the beer mug, according to court documents. Witnesses reported hearing Edwards making racial slurs about Mexicans and black people just before the assault.

Court documents show that Sampson's left eye was cut and blinded. The attack also caused cataracts in both eyes, neck and spinal injuries, and nerve damage to his face.

Under terms of a plea agreement last month, Edwards pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and three other charges of aggravated assault were dropped. He faced between 3 1/2 and 11 years in prison.

Judge Howard Hantman said he was unhappy about not being able to sentence Edwards to more than 11 years, and said it was "incomprehensible" the plea agreement was ever offered.


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