A Florida man who admitted to spitting on a supporter of President Donald Trump was sentenced to 90 days in jail last week.
Matthias Ajple, 43, pleaded no contest to charges of battery in the Oct. 26 incident and was found guilty in an Indian River County court on Thursday, the TC Palm reported, citing court documents.
Ajple, a Vero Beach resident and registered Democrat, was also ordered to pay $155 in restitution: $115 for a dress shirt and $40 to replace the “Make America Great Again Hat” belonging to Bob Youngblood, the 67-year-old man he spat on.
According to an arrest affidavit, Youngblood told police he was sitting at the bar on the day of the incident when Ajple approached him and said, “You should go back to Russia you f—ing communist.”
Ajple then slapped the brim of Youngblood’s hat, before walking around a gate and spitting at Youngblood, according to an Indian River County Sheriff’s Office report.
In court on Thursday, Youngblood said Ajple spat “all over” him and that he’d been distressed for 65 days following the incident, worried that Ajple’s spit might have infected him with a disease.
Youngblood had three cancer surgeries in the six months prior to the confrontation and had 17 stitches in his neck at the time.
Ajple’s spit landed on his neck, Youngblood told the court.
Surveillance footage captured at the bar shows the altercation unfolding as described by Youngblood.
When an officer investigating the incident showed up at Ajple’s residence in October, Ajple’s partner, Laura Torres, answered the door.
Torres said she told Ajple to tell Youngblood to go back to Russia “as a joke,” but did not see the altercation, according to the affidavit.
“I was just trying to protect you guys because I support law enforcement. Trump supporters are communist and racist,” Ajple told deputies while he was being taken to jail, according to the arresting officer.
“I don’t even care that I’m going to jail; this is actually exciting,” Ajple added. “Plus, I have more time on this earth than he does anyway; he probably feels so good about himself.”
“Matt is a person of morality and integrity”
Ajple’s attorneys wanted Indian River County Judge David Morgan to sentence their client to, at most, house arrest.
They argued Ajple, a senior vice president for a marketing and analytics firm, should be granted leniency so he can provide for his family and help raise his two children.
Torres testified in court on Thursday, saying her partner was “not a violent man and not a criminal.”
“Matt is a person of morality and integrity,” she said.
Torres also said publicity from the incident had led to her family receiving death and rape threats.
Ajple testified on his own behalf, saying he’d made a poor decision after having a “couple” of beers.
“I don’t feel a person should be judged on the worst moment of my life,” he told Judge David Morgan. “[Our family] has suffered for this.”
Morgan disagreed, saying he found it troubling that Ajple had taken it upon himself to “punish [Youngblood] for exercising his political speech.”
“[Your attack] was despicable. It was cowardly. In our culture … to spit on somebody indicates a feeling of superiority, of disdain, and then you ran,” Morgan added, before sentencing Ajple to jail.