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A Florida Dunkin’ Donuts worker was sentenced to two years of house arrest after the death of a 77-year-old man he punched three days earlier for calling him the N-word.
Prosecutors accepted a plea deal from 27-year-old Corey Pujols, who pleaded guilty to felony battery. Pujols was initially charged with aggravated manslaughter after the May 2021 incident, but agreed to plead guilty to a lesser sentence.
77-year-old Uses N-word
The 77-year-old, Vonelle Cook, was described as a “regularly troublesome and abusive” customer by the Tampa Dunkin’ Donuts workers. On the day of the incident, Cook had gone through the drive-thru and was angry about the service. So, he entered the store.
Police and prosecutors said Cook was yelling about customer service when Pujols asked him to leave. Cook called Pujols “n*gger” and Pujols asked him not to call him that again.
When Cook called Pujols “n*gger” a second time, Pujols punched him in the jaw, causing Cook to fall backwards and hit his head on the ground.
The impact on the ground caused Cook to have a skull fracture and brain contusions.
Cook was transported to the hospital after his injury, where he died three days later.
Two Year House Arrest Sentence for Dunkin’ Donuts employee
Prosecutors accepted a plea deal from Pujols, who agreed to change his plea to guilty on the lesser charge of felony battery in exchange for a more lenient 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,” said Grayson Kamm, a spokesperson for the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office in a statement to FOX 13. He said they also considered Cook’s words and behavior.
Prosecutors said it was important that there were consequences for Pujols’ actions, but did take into account Cook’s abusive behavior, “very troublesome criminal history” and prison time, which they said made him an “unsympathetic victim.”
Court records show Cook was a registered sex offender. No one from Cook’s family spoke at Monday’s sentencing hearing.
The Tampa judge also ordered Pujols to complete 200 hours of community service and attend an anger management course.