Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stabbing of Homeless Man May Be a Hate Crime; A 17-Year-Old Is Charged with Attempted Murder in the Weekend Attack in Mandarin

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stabbing of Homeless Man May Be a Hate Crime; A 17-Year-Old Is Charged with Attempted Murder in the Weekend Attack in Mandarin

Article excerpt

Byline: DANA TREEN and DAVID HUNT

In a surveillance clip snippet, a dapper figure calmly gripping a knife and a blanketed man drift in and out of camera range like actors in a low-budget horror film.

But the disturbing images recorded in Jacksonville early Saturday are instead real-life details in a middle-of-the-night attack that left a homeless man with multiple stab wounds and a nearly severed finger.

Police charged 17-year-old Eric Francis Sandefur on Monday with attempted murder after a man sleeping near Smitty's Internet Bar 7 on Kori Road was stabbed. Jason James Jerome, 28, had knife wounds in the hip, chest, stomach and neck. Three fingers on his left hand were sliced and his middle finger was nearly amputated, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office incident report.

At Shands Jacksonville where he was refusing surgery, Jerome told police he was asleep and woke to someone standing over him with a knife. He said he didn't know the attacker who he described only as having long hair and glasses, the report said.

What remained unclear Tuesday is whether Sandefur could face a stiffer penalty if he's convicted under a hate crimes law expanded Oct. 1 to include homeless victims.

The law grew out of a number of reported attacks on homeless people including a 2006 killing in Broward County that became widely publicized because it was caught on a security camera.

Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford said he was unfamiliar with the details of the Sandefur arrest. He questioned whether the stabbing followed some sort of dispute and he said more investigation would be needed before he could conclude whether what transpired was a hate crime.

Sandefur, whose address is in the 3300 block of Bowers Lane, was arrested when police arrived in the quiet Mandarin neighborhood off Beauclerc Road after dark Monday. It's unclear if the video is what led them there, but police confiscated a knife and clothing of Sandefur's from the house.

He is being held by the state Department of Juvenile Justice, according to police.

Sandefur began taking a couple of classes at Florida State College at Jacksonville in the fall in combination with being home-schooled, according to the college registrar's office. …

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