On Thursday, a federal jury in Oregon sentenced a Colorado trucker who inflicted a significant neck injury on a Black man at an eastern Oregon truck stop after nearly killing him in an unprovoked assault.
Nolan Levi Strauss, 27, admitted to a federal hate crime in which he intended to kill someone.
The defense claimed that Strauss committed the crime while he was off his mental health medications and suffering from a manic episode. Prosecutors responded that there was no doubt about Strauss’ racial animosity in the Dec. 21, 2019, ambush in Ontario.
In a shocking attack, Strauss, an Arby’s customer stabbed his victim in the neck after walking into the restaurant next to the Pilot Travel Center along Interstate 84 near the Idaho line.
Hughes seized his attacker’s hands and fought for control of the knife, but he was able to break free from Strauss. Strauss was subdued by truck stop employees.
Hughes was flown to Boise, Idaho, by helicopter for emergency surgery after he was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.
When Strauss was being restrained, a worker asked him why he had assaulted someone who wasn’t threatening him. “Because he was Black and I don’t like Black people,” according to prosecutors.
His thyroid cartilage and jugular vein were both slashed, causing him to lose his voice and mobility in his neck and arm. To return his voice and movement in his neck and arm, Hughes required months of physical therapy.
In court, Strauss maintained that he targeted Hughes because of his race.
“I’m extremely sorry for what I did. I wouldn’t do that in my right state of mind,” he said. “I’m happy that he survived.”
Strauss said he’s learned that he must “take his meds at all times.”