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By Shawn Raymundo
A San Clemente man was convicted last week after being found guilty in a hate crime in which he punched an African American man at a grocery store in Laguna Beach.
On Friday, Oct. 17, a Santa Ana jury found 23-year-old Fernando Ramirez guilty on one felony count of battery with serious bodily injury, one misdemeanor violation of civil rights by force and a felony hate crime enhancement, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office.
“Hate does not belong in Orange County,” OC District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a press release. “If you commit a crime motivated by hate, I can promise you the Orange County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”
Ramirez had attacked the 26-year-old victim, who was an employee of the Whole Foods Market in Laguna Beach, on June 15. During the incident, Ramirez ran up behind the victim and punched him in the face, breaking his nose and severely damaging his two front teeth, the DA’s office explained.
“The victim did not know his attacker,” the DA’s office stated in the release. “After his arrest, Ramirez went on a rant filled with racial epithets that targeted African Americans.”
Ramirez had previously been sentenced to serve two years in state prison for a 2014 gang-related felony assault, according to the DA.
Ramirez could face a maximum sentence of eight years in state prison. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 13.
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.