Columbia man guilty of assault, not guilty of attempted murder in beating

A Columbia man accused of brutally beating another man resulting in long-term injuries was convicted of assault charges, but found not guilty of an attempted murder charge, by a Howard County jury Thursday.

Johnny Ray Hungerford, 43, of the 5600 block of Stevens Forest Road, was convicted of first- and second-degree assault in connection with the Jan. 18 fight with Joseph Alexander Harris, 55, of Columbia, according to State's Attorney spokesman Wayne Kirwan.

Since the fight, which occurred in a parking lot outside a Columbia apartment complex, Harris has been confined to a Laurel nursing home and has been unable to care for himself, according to Kirwan. 

The jury found Hungerford not guitly of first-degree attempted murder, which was the most significant charge levied by prosecutors. 

According to the charging documents, Hungerford attacked Harris because he thought he was dating his ex-girlfriend, who testified in court that the two separated at the time of the incident. She also testified she saw Hungerford beat Harris and that he kicked him two or three times, Kirwan said. 

After the jury verdict, Judge Timothy J. McCrone revoked Hungerford’s bond and set a sentencing date of Oct. 27, Kirwan said. Hungerford faces a maximum penalty of up to 25 years in prison on the first-degree assault conviction.

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