MILWAUKEE - A Milwaukee County judge sentenced Clifton Blackwell on Wednesday, May 18 to ten years in prison and another five years of extended supervision – in connection with a 2019 hate crime where Blackwell threw acid on a man over a parking spot. A jury found Blackwell guilty on April 28.
Prior to being sentenced on Wednesday, Blackwell was offered an opportunity to make a statement to the court.
"He still scares me very much. I regret that it all happened. I'm still ascared that I could drop dead of a heart attack right now, as far as I know. And I would definitely do it differently," Blackwell said.
"I think its narcissistic sir for you to only talk about yourself," said Judge Jean Kies. "I’ve heard no contrition, I’ve heard no acceptance of responsibility."
Blackwell admits he threw acid on the face of Mahud Villalaz in 2019. It was all caught on surveillance video. The two men got into an argument over a parking spot. Villalaz was parked in a bus lane. Blackwell says he told him to move and doesn't remember much else about the conversation.
Villalaz is a U.S. citizen who emigrated from Peru.
"America is a melting pot in my estimation, sir, and Mr. Villalaz did everything right," said Judge Jean Kies, prior to handing down her sentence. "He came to this country, he became a citizen, he worked hard, he started a life, and he has two sons that he has here in this country. He's done everything by the book. Yet you on the day in question, stereotyped him. You stereotyped him because of his race, his ancestry. You stereotyped him because of his national origin. But you really didn't know Mr. Villalaz. While he is Hispanic by virtue of his background, he is a citizen of the United States just as much as you are. In fact, in some regards, he worked really hard to attain that because he wasn't born here – he was born in Peru. But instead of recognizing that and minding your own business, you told him, when you encountered him, go back to your country. Why did you invade my country? And then when you weren't satisfied with his answers, you threw acid in his face."
Blackwell's defense argued he didn't throw acid because of where Villalaz came from. Blackwell says he threw acid because he was afraid. Blackwell's defense attorney called the acid "poor man's mace."
Blackwell was convicted of first-degree reckless injury, use of a dangerous weapon with a hate crime modifier.
Blackwell's attorney spoke with reporters as he left the courtroom.
"On my way out, he did say he was sorry and it wouldn’t happen again now why he didn’t say that when given the opportunity by the judge I don’t know," said Michael Plaisted, defense attorney.
Acid attack on man near 13th and Harrison, Milwaukee
Villalaz said an apology would have gone a long way. But he is relieved with the sentencing.
"I feel so supportive for this decision, I feel the judge made me feel I am a real American citizen too," said Mahud Villalaz.
Villalaz knows exactly what he is going to tell his children.
"Justice prevailed," Villalaz said.
Reaction to sentence
Attorney Craig Mastantuono:
"Mahud Villalaz respects Judge Kies’ decision. He hopes that Clifton Blackwell comes to realize what he did was wrong and that racial violence and hatred of immigrants have no place in America, a country of immigrants. As we saw in the tragic killings in Buffalo this week, hate crime is real and rising in our country, stoked by political leaders and media personalities who spread fear of others and encourage people to act out. That happened in this case, and is happening across the country."