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Doughnut shop worker who fatally punched 77-year-old customer over being called N-word sentenced to two years of house arrest

  A 27-year-old doughnut shop employee who fatally punched a 77-year-old customer last year over being called the N-word was sentenced Monda...

 A 27-year-old doughnut shop employee who fatally punched a 77-year-old customer last year over being called the N-word was sentenced Monday to two years of house arrest, WTVT-TV reported.

What are the details?

Investigators said Vonelle Cook went through a Dunkin' drive-through in Tampa, Florida, on May 5, 2021, and was angry about the lack of service, the station reported.

Employees said Cook was a frequent customer and "regularly troublesome and abusive," WTVT said, citing a state attorney's office release.

Cook then parked his car and walked into the restaurant, and prosecutors said he was aggressive and verbally abusive toward employees — including Corey Pujols, the station said.

When Pujols — who is black — asked Cook to leave, police told WTVT that Cook called him the N-word.

Pujols told Cook not to call him the racial slur again, the station said, but Cook did just that. WTVT's early reporting on the incident — citing investigators — indicated the victim repeated the slur after Pujols challenged him to do so.

After the second N-word utterance, Pujols punched Cook in the jaw, the station said. The blow knocked out Cook and caused him fall and hit his head on the floor, WTVT said.

Tampa Fire Rescue responded and took Cook to a hospital, where he died three days later, the station said, adding that an autopsy revealed he suffered a skull fracture and brain contusions from the fall.

What happened next?

Police arrested Pujols and charged him with aggravated manslaughter of an elderly adult, WTVT said. But prosecutors later made a deal with Pujols, who pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of felony battery in exchange for a more lenient sentence, the station said.

In addition to two years of house arrest, a judge sentenced the former Dunkin' employee to complete 200 hours of community service and attend an anger management course, WTVT said.

"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," Grayson Kamm, spokesperson for the Hillsborough state attorney's office, told the station in a statement.

Prosecutors also noted Cook's "very troublesome criminal history" and prison time — court records show he was a registered sex offender — which they said made him an "unsympathetic victim," WTVT reported.

Darrin Johnson, an attorney for Pujols, declined to comment after the hearing, the station said.

Here's a WTVT report that aired after Cook's death:

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