A 39-year-old man who assaulted a 13-year-old boy for “disrespecting” the National Anthem during a rodeo at a Montana fair earlier this month pleaded not guilty this Wednesday to felony assault on a minor, CNN reports.
Curt James Brockway, allegedly attacked the boy after he failed to remove his hat for the Anthem, fracturing his skull.
“There was a little boy lying on the ground,” a witness told the Missoulian. “He was bleeding out of his ears, seizing on the ground, just not coherent.”
According to witnesses, Brockway tried to justify the assault as people began to confront him, saying that he had “every right” to do so because of the perceived disrespect to the Anthem.
“It’s just a lot of pain in my head. I don’t remember anything – the rodeo – the helicopter – nothing,” the boy told KPAX.
According to CNN, Brockway’s attorney said his client is a military veteran with “severe traumatic brain injury” and problems with impulse control. He also said that his client was greatly influenced by President Trump’s rhetoric, specifically Trump’s railing against athletes who kneel for the National Anthem.
“Curt takes that literally and views the President as the commander in chief and when he sees it happening, he feels he needs to do something about it,” attorney Lance Jasper said.
According to Jasper, his client expressed remorse over the incident.
“He told me, ‘I guess I messed up because he got hurt. But I’m a patriot,'” Jasper said.
Brockway is reportedly already serving a 10-year probation sentence for an assault with a weapon charge in 2010. He faces up to 5 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Featured image via Montana Department of Corrections