The man accused of sucker-punching a 12-year-old boy on a Missouri street corner is going to jail on a seven-year maximum sentence.
In a video of the random attack that went viral in July 2020, the suspect could be seen getting out an SUV from the passenger side and appeared to be joining in with the street performance in downtown Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Instead, he delivered a vicious blow to the head of Ethan Hagler, who was dancing on the sidewalk nearby his dancing instructor and another student. The suspect then returned to the vehicle and left the scene.
Hagler suffered a concussion and a bloody nose in the attack and received treatment at a local hospital.
Earlier this month, the suspect, Cedric Moore, 28, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault after previously pleading not guilty. The judge subsequently imposed the sentence.
Watch (WARNING: GRAPHIC):
Dance instructor Micheal Curry, who in the video initially chased the vehicle, described the attack as “horrible,” and added that “Right now [Ethan] is still dealing with dizziness and his nose hurt. He is just trying to rebuild himself and recoup from what happened,” KMOV reported.
Moore originally faced second-degree felony assault and first-degree child endangerment charges upon turning himself in to the Scott County Sheriff’s Office several days after the incident. Cops had identified him from the video footage and issued a warrant for his arrest.
In a July 6, 2020, Facebook post, the Cape Girardeau Police Department explained that “The public has understandably expressed a desire to see Moore charged with a hate crime for this heinous crime. In accordance with state statutes, this charge would only apply if the assault was categorized to a lesser degree, which would not be in the best interest of seeking true justice for the victim.”
What this statement appeared to imply is that a hate crime charge would not stiffen any court-imposed penalty.
The county prosecutor provided a similar acknowledgment: “The possible crime that would fit this matter that is capable of being enhanced by the Hate Crime Statute is Assault in the 3rd degree. This is a lower degree of assault then (sic) what has been filed. The Endangering and Assault 2nd are not offenses that are eligible to be enhanced by this statute.”
At the time of the assault, Moore was reportedly already on a five-year probation term for a 2019 felony domestic assault conviction. As a result, a judge also sentenced him to four years in prison for the probation violation, which will run concurrently (i.e., simultaneously) with the seven years behind bars.
In describing what happened that night, Curry said at the time: “And all of a sudden, I see him punch my kid and instantly, my first reaction is what? Why? You know, I tried to chase him back to the car. And as soon as I got the car, I saw there was two other people in the car. So I had to think about my child. He’s laying on the ground. And from there, it was a lot of people that came up to help, especially Shaker’s the bar downtown that we usually set up in front of.”
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