A Colorado trucker, Nolan Levi Strauss, who nearly murdered a Black man by stabbing him in the neck at an eastern Oregon truck stop, was sentenced to prison.
The Oregonian reported Strauss, 27, pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime involving an attempt to kill.
The convicted felon from Colorado Springs walked into the Arby’s next to the Pilot Travel Center along Interstate 84 near the Idaho border and stabbed Ronnell Hughes in the neck.
Hughes grabbed his attacker’s hands and fought for control of the knife before he could break free from Strauss.
His lawyer argued that Strauss committed the crime because he was off his mental health medication and having a manic episode. Strauss was apparently diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2016 and has struggled with his mental health since youth.
The Oregonian reported he also had one prior misdemeanor third-degree assault conviction for slamming a door on an officer’s hand doing a welfare check.
However, Prosecutors disagreed, saying there was no mistaking Strauss’ racial animosity in the Dec. 21, 2019, ambush in Ontario.
The Oregonian wrote, ‘As truck stop workers restrained Strauss, tying his hands behind his back with a belt until police arrived, one asked him why he attacked a stranger and Strauss responded, ‘Because he was Black, and I don’t like Black people.’
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gavin W. Bruce spoke on the apparent hate crime, saying, “Mr. Strauss left no ambiguity regarding the motive for his attack. He chose him because he was Black.”
Hughes, who required months of physical therapy to regain his voice and motion in his neck and arm, recalled the scene during the sentencing.
“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.”
Strauss was sentenced to 16 years in federal prison for the stabbing.