A 61-year-old white man who is accused of splashing acid on a Hispanic man’s face and telling him to go back to his country has been charged with a hate crime by prosecutors in Milwaukee.
The prosecutors also filed charges of first-degree reckless injury and use of a dangerous weapon against the suspect, Clifton Blackwell, on Wednesday. He faces a total of 35 years in prison and $105,000 in fines.
According to charging documents, the episode began Friday night when Blackwell yelled at Mahud Villalaz, 42, for parking too close to a bus stop, saying “Why did you invade my country?” and “Why don’t you respect my laws?”
Villalaz, who is a US citizen, moved his truck and walked back toward the restaurant’s entrance, prosecutors say, but Blackwell continued to berate him, calling him an “illegal” before splashing him in the face with a bottle of acid. A surveillance camera caught the attack on video.
Villalaz suffered second-degree burns on his face and third-degree burns on his neck, as well as irritation to his left eye.
Wisconsin state law provides for an additional fine of $5,000 and a maximum of five more years in jail for felonies in which the perpetrator selects a victim because of their national origin, “whether or not the actor’s belief or perception was correct.” Villalaz, who was born in Peru, became a US citizen in 2013.
A search of Blackwell’s home recovered muriatic acid, four bottles of sulfuric acid, and two bottles of lye-based drain opener, police said.
NEW YORK TIMES