Three charged with hate crime in beating of ice cream vendor

HOUSTON (AP) — Three white men have been jailed on a hate crime charge in the beating of a black suburban ice cream vendor.

Victor McDonald, 44, said the July 22 beating left him with facial fractures and blurred vision. He told the Houston Chronicle for a story in Wednesday editions that he has forgiven his assailants but can’t understand why he was attacked.

“For God’s sake, I sell ice cream,” McDonald said. “What threat did I pose to them?”

Dale Howell, 36, Troy Elledge, 42, and Christopher Elledge, 20, are charged with aggravated assault with a hate crime enhancement. Aggravated assault is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, but the enhancement raises the maximum penalty to life imprisonment.

It is the first time the enhancement has been used for a second-degree felony in Harris County since Texas’ hate crime law took effect in 2001, said Donna Hawkins, spokeswoman for the Harris County District Attorney’s office.

All three suspects were being held in the Harris County Jail. Bond was set at $30,000 apiece for the Elledges, whose relationship was not clear, and at $40,000 for Howell. None has attorneys yet, court spokeswoman Mary Leal said.

The suspects blocked McDonald’s ice cream truck and beat him while shouting racial epithets on a northwest Harris County street, police said.

The blows broke McDonald’s nose and bones around his left eye. He said his vision remains blurry, but he is hopeful it will improve as his skull heals.

McDonald, who has been selling ice cream since June when he was laid off from a job selling wireless service, said he won’t return to driving the ice cream truck.

“These people have friends and family members. I’m a marked man,” he said.

Information from: Houston Chronicle,

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