Man charged with hate crime in Milwaukee acid attack

Tony Magpantay / MGN

(NBC)- A man accused in an acid attack against a Peruvian immigrant in Milwaukee is facing up to 35 years in prison after being charged with a hate crime Wednesday.

Clifton Blackwell, 61, was charged with first-degree reckless injury. Officials say he threw battery acid at 42-year-old Mahud Villalaz in an attack last week that left Villalaz with second-degree burns on his face.

Villalaz, who is a U.S. citizen and Latino, told authorities that a white man approached him Friday evening outside a restaurant asking "Why did you invade my country?" and "Why don’t you respect my laws?" according to a criminal complaint. Villalaz said he moved his car and tried to go into the restaurant but the verbal assault continued.

It was then that the man threw a metal container full of acid at Villalaz.

Authorities found muriatic acid, Parkerizing cleaner, four bottles of brand name Kleen-Out sulfuric acid and two bottles of Kleen-Out drain opener at Blackwell's home during a search Monday, according to the complaint.

A charge of first-degree reckless injury carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. Authorities also added hate crime and use of a deadly weapon enhancers to the case, which can each add five years to a sentence.

Blackwell is being held on $20,000 bail and has not yet entered a plea. His next court date is Nov. 15. It is unclear if he has retained an attorney.