A 28-year-old man pleaded guilty to assault with the intent to commit unarmed robbery.
Jesse Rae could have faced a prison term of up to 15 years but because of his guilty plea on Wednesday, he probably will receive no more than a year behind bars at his sentencing hearing. He is free on bail until the hearing, which is scheduled for Jan. 28.
Rae told The Grand Rapids Press that he had used alcohol and cocaine on June 22 before he entered the Next Door Food Store in a Grand Rapids suburb and noticed a wad of bills in the pocket of store customer Bill Barnes.
Barnes, a retiree who not only served in the military but also was a Golden Gloves boxer, said he was scratching off a losing $2 (1.36 EUR) lottery ticket when he felt a hand enter his front-left pants pocket, where he had $300 (204 EUR) in cash that he had just withdrawn from a bank machine. He grabbed Rae's wrist with his left hand, whirled around and started throwing punches with his right.
A surveillance camera in the store captured Barnes hitting Rae's head and body with his fists. Barnes landed six or seven blows before a store manager intervened.
Before the plea hearing, Rae called the incident "an eye-opening ordeal" that made him realize he needed mental health care, which he since has received.
"This has actually lifted a lot of stress off my shoulders," he said.