SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) --A man was sentenced to nine years in prison Thursday morning for brutally beating an 83-year-old man in Santa Ana last year.
Demarrea Chante Barnes, 29, attacked Tuyen Nguyen in the parking lot of a restaurant in the 5000 block of W. Edinger Avenue around 6:10 a.m. on Sept. 25. The unprovoked assault was caught on surveillance video.
"He doesn't sleep too well anymore. He wakes up screaming sometimes. He has frequent nightmares," the victim's son, Huy Nguyen, told the judge.
Nguyen was transported to a local hospital in critical condition following the attack. He suffered a brain hemorrhage and broken eye socket.
"He is now unable to walk without the assistance of a walker. He has lost vision in his right eye," Nguyen said.
Barnes, believed to be a transient, was arrested the day after the attack. The judge said this case is an example of how the system has failed someone with mental illness, pointing out that Barnes has 32 prior cases and never got mental help.
"At the end of nine years without help, is he going to come out, not take his meds and do it again? He needs help," said Tammy Palmer, Barnes' great aunt.
While the victim continues his recovery at home, he told his family he forgives Barnes. He even echoed the words of the judge, telling his son he wants his attacker to get the right support.
"We're all just hoping and praying that Mr. Barnes, once he gets released from custody, that he's able to get the help that he needs," Huy Nguyen said.
Palmer says she hopes to use her great nephew's case as a way to raise awareness about people with mental illnesses in the justice system.