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Truck driver sentenced to 16 years for randomly slashing Black man’s neck

Nolan Strauss pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime.

truck driver MediaNews Group via Getty Images

A trucker from Colorado will be serving time behind bars following his spontaneous attack of a Black man. As NBC News reported, 27-year-old Nolan Strauss was sentenced to 16 years in prison on Thursday (Sept. 9) after he pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime.

Back in December of 2019, Strauss walked into the Arby’s near the Idaho border, approached 49-year-old Ronnell Hughes from behind and stabbed him in the neck with a four-inch knife. At the time, Hughes — who’d been filling out a job application at a fast-food counter — fought to get control of the knife before a maintenance worker came to his rescue and subdued the trucker.

The Black man — whose clothes were drenched with blood — broke free and ran across the street where he collapsed next to a trash can. He was taken to a local hospital and transferred to an Idaho hospital for emergency surgery as he endured a cut in his jugular vein and a thyroid cartilage injury. The sentencing hearing was the first time he saw Strauss since he “snuck up behind” him at the fast food restaurant.

“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,” Hughes said.

According to prosecutors, when asked to explain the random attack, a restrained Strauss responded, “Because he was Black, and I don’t like Black people.” He made the same admission in court and explained that the decision was made amid a manic episode that he had after he failed to take his mental health medication.

“I’m extremely sorry for what I did. I wouldn’t do that in my right state of mind. I’m happy that he survived,” Strauss said, adding that he now knows he should “take his meds at all times.”

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