A judge hit a Florida Democrat with a stiff sentence after the man was caught on surveillance video slapping and spitting on an elderly man — all because he didn’t like what he saw him wearing.
Matthias George Ajple, a 43-year-old registered Democrat, was out to dinner with his family at the Hurricane Grill & Wings in Vero Beach after having what he called a tough day, according to Florida Today. After his family headed to the car, Ajple assaulted an elderly man he didn’t know for wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.
Ajple’s victim, 67-year-old Robert Youngblood, was sitting at the bar, minding his own business and watching a game with friends when Ajple walked over and said, “You should go back to Russia you f***ing communist.” Surveillance footage captured Ajple slapping the “MAGA” hat on the older man’s head. Moments later, the same video shows Ajple returning, leaning over a fence, and spitting on Youngblood.
“It was stunning,” said Youngblood, who’s owned a home in Indian River County for 32 years. “We all went, ‘What the heck just happened?'” Matthias Ajple got in his car and left the scene, but not before the older gentleman wrote down the car’s license plate number. Youngblood called the police, who tracked down Ajple at his home, where a deputy spoke with his wife.
Although Ajple’s wife said she did not witness the altercation, she admitted to a deputy that she told her husband to go up to Youngblood and tell him to “go back to Russia,” according to the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office arrest affidavit. The arresting sheriff’s deputy then spoke with Ajple, who said he placed a wet napkin on the hat to cover up the message and that he assaulted Youngblood to protect police.
“I was just trying to protect you guys because I support law enforcement,” Ajple explained as he also claimed that those who wear a hat with that slogan are communist and racist. “I don’t even care that I’m going to jail,” he added, “this is actually exciting. Plus, I have more time on this earth than he does anyway; he probably feels so good about himself.”
Ajple was arrested and booked on charges of battery and pleaded no-contest to the charges, according to TCPalm. He soon found out he would be spending several months behind bars. Judge David Morgan accepted Ajple’s no-contest plea, determined he was guilty of battery, and sentenced him to 90 days in Indian River County Jail.
“This was a passive-aggressive act of hatred,” Assistant State Attorney Gina Kondziola told the judge. “(Ajple) was proud of what he had done,” she added, and Judge Morgan seemed to agree.
“It bothers me a lot that your stated goal was to punish (Youngblood) for exercising his political speech,” Morgan told Ajple, noting that when U.S. governments attempt to suppress free speech, folks like flag burners at least get their day in court. “Here you simply punished (Youngblood) on the spot. (Your attack) was despicable. It was cowardly,” he added. “In our culture … to spit on somebody indicates a feeling of superiority, of disdain, and then you ran.”
In addition to the 90-day jail sentence, Ajple was ordered to serve one year of supervised probation, avoid contact with Youngblood, and pay all necessary court costs. He must also pay Youngblood $155 in restitution, some of which will reportedly be used to replace the older gentleman’s “MAGA” hat.
But, Ajple might be forced to suffer even more consequence since Youngblood, a retired corporate sales manager and president of a local nonprofit that teaches youths to fly glider planes, filed a civil lawsuit against him, seeking damages of more than $15,000. According to The Smoking Gun, the lawsuit states that, at the time of the battery, Youngblood had just undergone cancer surgery (his third in 6 months) and had 17 stitches on his neck.
Youngblood’s complaint alleges that he suffered emotional distress “when Ajple spit on and about him including the area of his recent cancer surgery.” He worried for 65 days after taking a blood test to determine if Ajple’s saliva had infected him. But, that’s not all of the torment he endured.
After Ajple’s arrest, Youngblood said he was continually victimized. Nasty signs were erected on the road to his home, he received politically based hate calls, and his wife was scared. Despite it all, Youngblood said he will continue to wear his “MAGA” hat in public. “I will never stop wearing my hat that I believe represents what I believe,” he said.
Matthias Ajple was able to strum up a little sympathy over the stiff sentence as an editorial in Florida Today pointed out that Ajple was a first time offender with no priors who pleaded “no contest.” The editorial, initially bemoaning the man’s sentence as “hard to fathom,” gave a detailed description of Ajple’s life as an upstanding citizen:
Ajple’s a father of two, ages 2 and 5, the senior vice president and founding partner of a “customer data” company with offices in San Francisco and Florida. Educated in Germany and a former channel manager and games editor with AOL Time Warner, Ajple bought a home in Vero Beach in 2007, online records show.
All that tells me is that he should have known better. Considering a misdemeanor battery charge is punishable by up to a year in jail and the state elected not to charge him with battery on an elder, a felony that carries a sentence of up to five years, I’d say Matthias Ajple got off easy. An educated man and a pillar of the community, raising children, should know that freedom of speech is protected by our constitution while physically assaulting someone is against the law. It’s not a hard concept to understand.