NC man pleads guilty to breaking 77-year-old veteran’s jaw

Clarence Hayes (Source: Hickory Police Department)

HICKORY, N.C. (WBTV) – A Hickory man pleaded guilty Tuesday to assaulting a Vietnam War veteran and breaking his jaw in 2016.

According to court documents, 33-year-old Clarence Martin Hayes III was given a suspended “split” sentence of 16-to-29 months with 30 months of probation for the charge of felony assault inflicting serious bodily injury. Hayes will spend 30 days of his sentence in the Catawba County Jail, the District Attorney said.

Court officials said Hayes punched the victim, 78-year-old James Stonemetz, and broke Stonemetz’s jaw at his home in June 2016.

According to the District Attorney, Stonemetz confronted Hayes about riding an ATV across his lawn and told Hayes to stay off his property, that is when Hayes punched Stonemetz in the face.

Stonemetz was required medical treatment at the Frye Regional Medical Center in Hickory and Wake forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, court officials said. Stonemetz’s mouth was wired shut for six weeks due to the injuries his sustained in the assault, according to court documents.

Stonemetz released this statement praising the efforts of the law enforcement and court officials:

“I have nothing but praise for the Hickory Police Department; I feel they did an excellent job. And the DA’s Office, I also feel, was excellent. (Prosecutor) Jamie Adams was outstanding. She was really thorough with her preparation. I believe the judge was fair. We understand that he has guidelines to follow.”

Court officials said Stonemetz is a highly decorated solider and earned numerous medals for his service with the United States Army during the Vietnam War, including the Bronze Star, an Army Commendation and three Good Conduct awards.

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