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Former Navy SEAL sentenced to 5 years after attack on Illinois man in Waikiki

A gavel cracks down. (Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid/U.S. Air Force)

A former Navy SEAL charged with attacking a visitor at Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki last year has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Andrew Judge, 33, was found guilty of second-degree assault for an unprovoked attack on a 58-year-old man who was preparing to return to Illinois. Judge also was ordered to pay nearly $16,000 in restitution for the victim’s “lost wages and medical bills.”

The attack took place on Feb. 11, 2019, around 4 a.m. Judge was sentenced by Judge Paul Wong on Friday.

A news release Wednesday from Honolulu’s Department of the Prosecuting Attorney said Judge “inexplicably unleashed a barrage of more than 70 punches and kicks to the man’s head and body.” Judge, then 32, approached the victim, then 57, and asked him for a cigarette. Judge then asked him if he wanted to die before attacking him.

Statements from the victim, Steven Brown, and his wife said that the attack left Brown with permanent physical damage as well as psychological damage.

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“I was driven by ambulance, unconscious, from the hotel lobby covered in blood witnessed by my wife that thought I was dead,” Brown said. “She claimed that the attacker was sitting down smirking as if he was proud of what he did.”

Brown said he received 21 stitches to his head, and his wife claimed that his right eye looked as if it was “hanging out of (his) head.” Brown had surgery on his eye and rotator cuff, but he said he can no longer lift more than 5 pounds above his shoulders and now requires corrective lenses to drive.

Judge, who apparently lives in Hawaii, is a decorated former Navy SEAL whose awards include a Bronze Star medal for heroic or meritorious achievement or service, a Combat Action ribbon and a National Defense Service medal, according to court records.

Judge’s last assignment was in Hawaii, and he was discharged to the temporary disability list in January 2015 after spending over 10 years in active duty.

Court documents reveal that he had difficulties transitioning from military to civilian life.

Judge had been attending individual psychotherapy sessions since October after being diagnosed with adjustment disorder with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct, according to court documents. Judge also recently began taking music lessons and had been volunteering at a local soup kitchen in Honolulu.

Judge’s parents, Primrose and Albert Judge, sent a letter to Wong in February pleading for a sentence that did not include any jail time. They said Andrew Judge was providing financial assistance to his two children and their mother, who live in Los Angeles. The former Navy SEAL became the father of twin boys in May, and he video chats with them every week, his parents said.

The letter said that Albert Judge, 79, has a serious heart condition and was hospitalized last year, which makes it difficult to travel to Hawaii to visit.

“Were Andrew to be incarcerated and one of us should pass, it would deal him a devastating blow,” they said in the letter. “As his parents, it is our hope that 2020 and the years to follow will be kinder and gentler to Andrew.”

Andrew Judge also sent a letter to Wong explaining that he was emotionally distraught at the time of the attack.

“During the time of the incident I wasn’t the most grounded and I didn’t have many people to talk to,” Judge wrote. “I made a mistake and I did not know how to manage my emotions properly. It just hurt being in a relationship where the mother said I wasn’t what she was needing. Whenever I would try to talk to her about building a family foundation she avoided it. Being an amazing father means the world to me, and I felt extremely hurt when she didn’t include me in anything.”

Brown said he thought Andrew Judge was a vagrant, and he was “helping a homeless person by giving him a cigarette. The result was an attempt to murder me for no reason.”

Court documents show that Brown has accrued about $140,000 in outstanding medical expenses since the attack.

The prosecutor’s office flew Brown back to Hawaii to address the court during Judge’s sentencing.

“Having the victim address the court in person was essential. The court needed to hear how the attack affected the victim’s life and the life of his wife and family,” said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Michener, in a news release.

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© 2020 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser