Florida Dunkin’ Worker Sentenced to House Arrest for Fatally Punching Customer

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    Pujos, who was sentenced Monday, will undergo three years of probation following house arrest, must attend an anger management course, and must complete 200 hours of community service, the Tampa Bay Times reports. He was initially charged with aggravated manslaughter before cutting a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to a felony battery charge in exchange for the sentence, WTVT noted.

    The incident occurred at 1:30 p.m. on May 4 of last year after 77-year-old Vonelle Cook went through the drive-thru at the Dunkin' located at 410 South 50 Street in Tampa, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Cook was irate about the service he received in the drive-thru, so he went inside of the store and proceeded to spout off about customer service, according to WTVT. Employees had described him as “regularly troublesome and abusive” the outlet noted, per a release from the state attorney's office.

    Prosecutors said he was being verbally abusive and aggressive toward Dunkin' workers, including Pujos, according to WTVT. Pujos asked the 77-year-old to leave, which prompted Cook to call him the “n-word.”

    “Pujols told Cook not to call him the racial slur again,” WTVT reports. “When Cook did, Pujols punched him in the jaw, knocking the man out and causing him to fall and hit his head on the floor.”

    “According to the affidavit, he started bleeding from the head and was taken to a hospital with a skull fracture and contusions on the brain,” NBC News reported. “He died three days later, police said.”

    Grayson Kamm, a spokesman for the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office provided WTVT with a statement on Pujos's sentence:

    This outcome holds the defendant accountable while taking into account the totality of the circumstances–the aggressive approach and despicable racial slur used by the victim, along with the defendant's age, lack of criminal record, and lack of intent to cause the victim's death.

    Prosecutors said they considered Cook's criminal past and behavior which made him an “unsympathetic victim,” the outlet notes. According to court records, the 77-year-old victim was a sex offender.

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