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Dunkin' employee who fatally punched customer sentenced to house arrest

Corey Pujols, 27, punched the 77-year-old customer after the man called him a racial slur, police said.

A Florida Dunkin' employee was sentenced to two years on house arrest after he pleaded guilty to fatally punching a customer who used a racial slur.

Corey Pujols, 27, was initially charged with aggravated manslaughter after he punched a 77-year-old man in the jaw following an altercation in May. He pleaded not guilty but agreed to change his plea for the lesser charge of felony battery, court records show.

In addition to house arrest, a judge sentenced him to three years of probation, 200 hours of community service and ordered him to attend an anger management course.

Attorneys for Pujols could not immediately be reached on Wednesday.

The incident began when the customer, identified by The Associated Press as Vonelle Cook, became upset over the lack of service he was receiving in the drive-thru, Tampa police said at the time. Cook was asked to leave, but he instead parked and went inside the store.

Police said Cook and Pujols started arguing and that Cook called Pujols, who is Black, a racial slur. A criminal report affidavit states that the customer called Pujols the N-word.

Pujols told the man not to repeat the slur and when the man did Pujols punched him in the jaw.

Cook was knocked unconscious and fell, hitting his head on the floor. According to the affidavit, he started bleeding from the head and was taken to a hospital with a skull fracture and contusions on the brain. He died three days later, police said.

“This outcome holds the defendant accountable while considering 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 spokesman for Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren.