APpa 09/09 0635 Krishna Assault TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- An aggravated assault conviction aga

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APpa 09/09 0635 Krishna Assault TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- An aggravated assault conviction against a man who punched a Hare Krishna follower was upheld by an appeals court. A two-judge panel in the Appellate Division of Superior Court on Tuesday rejected the defendant's claim that the prosecutor failed to prove he had the state of mind necessary to be guilty of aggravated assault. The defendant, identified as Ronald R. Smith, punched the victim on a street somewhere in Somerset County. The court, citing trial testimony, said Smith "suddenly" threw a punch after the victim, who was soliciting contributions, received a donation from Smith's companion but did not give out a bumper sticker to Smith. "On the basis of the evidence, the jury could reasonably conclude that defendant punched the victim with extraordinary force, that he purposely `blind-sided' him ... and that the blow was delivered recklessly with extreme indifference to the value of human life," the court said. The victim had an "enormous swelling" on the right side of his cheek and a laceration on the back of his head, and faced a "substantial risk" of death, the court said. If he had not been told the victim was punched in the face, the neurosurgeon who treated the victim would have attributed the injuries to a "baseball bat or a tire iron, something carrying great energy," the court said. Smith was sentenced to an indeterminate custodial term not to exceed seven years. The defendant's home town and the date and exact location of the assault were not given in the opinion. Neither the prosecutor who handled the case nor the attorney for the defendant could be reached for comment.

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