A White Colorado truck driver identified as Nolan Strauss has been sentenced to 16 years in federal prison and five years of supervised release for a hate crime after repeatedly stabbing a Black man in the neck.
Nolan Strauss, 27, ambushed Ronnell Hughes, a Black man, who was applying for a job at an Oregon truck stop in December 2019.
Strauss told police that he had a “misunderstanding in his head,” that he “kind of lost control,” and that he had a “problem with Black people,” according to the prosecutor’s sentencing memo, according to the Oregonian.
Strauss pled guilty to a federal hate crime involving a murder attempt.
“His lawyer argued that Strauss committed the crime because he was off his mental health medication and in the throes of a manic episode, but prosecutors said there was no mistaking Strauss’ racial animosity precipitating the December 2019 ambush in Ontario.” the Oregonian reported.
“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,” according to prosecutors.”
Reports added: “Mr. Strauss left no ambiguity regarding the motive for his attack,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Gavin W. Bruce. “He chose him because he was Black.”
Strauss, according to the defense, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2016 and has struggled with his mental health since his youth.
According to the Oregonian, he also had a prior misdemeanor third-degree assault conviction for slamming a door on the hand of an officer performing a welfare check.
Strauss was reportedly sent to the Oregon State Hospital in Salem before he was deemed able to aid-and-assist in his own defense before the trial even began.
According to the Oregonian, U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane stated that Strauss was indeed struggling mentally, occasionally using racial slurs, appearing paranoid, disorganized, and drinking his own urine, as reported by the hospital.
During his police interviews, he also kept repeating many racial epithets and his contempt for Black people, according to the Associated Press.
Despite acknowledging Strauss’ mental health issues, McShane stated that the gravity of the crime could not be overlooked.
Months of physical therapy were required for the 49-year-old to regain his voice and motion in his arm and neck. The Root reported.
Strauss cut Hughes’ jugular vein and damaged his thyroid cartilage after stabbing him twice with a four-inch blade.
He required 54 staples to close the wound in his neck, according to The Oregonian.
“I’m extremely sorry for what I did. I wouldn’t do that in my right state of mind,” Strauss said following his sentence. According to AP, “I’m happy that he survived.”