Two New York men charged with assaulting a 55-year-old man at a Ravens game last year, leaving him with a critical brain injury, will not serve jail time.
Scott Smith, 30, of Mount Vernon and Andrew Nappi, 32, of Eastchester each entered an Alford plea Friday in Baltimore City Circuit Court on one count of misdemeanor second-degree assault.
An Alford plea allows a defendant to maintain innocence while acknowledging that prosecutors have enough evidence to win a conviction.
The two men will each serve 18 months probation.
Prosecutors said Joseph Bauer was at an Oct. 2 game between the Ravens and Raiders with his wife and friends when they decided to leave early.
While leaving the stadium, Bauer began to argue with Smith and Nappi, who are Raiders fans, prosecutors said. The altercation turned violent, and Smith pushed Bauer. Nappi, prosecutors said, punched Bauer in the face.
Bauer fell backward and hit his head on the ground, causing him to fade in and out of consciousness, prosecutors said. He was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center and diagnosed with a skull fracture, among other injuries.
The incident left Bauer in critical condition with a severe brain injury, from which he has not fully recovered, his family said.
Bauer was not in court Friday, but more than a dozen of his friends and relatives were. Bauer's wife, Sharon, tearfully addressed the two men who assaulted her husband.
She said the injury has led to "nine months of continued issues" and sent her husband into a state of "constant pain and confusion."
Bauer, who had always been active, has had to relearn how to walk and talk, she said. His legs and feet have become especially weak since the assault.
"He is a different person than before the assault because of these injuries," she said. He can no longer complete his dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail, she added.
"It hurts my heart to see him in this capacity," Bauer said.
Kevin Stern, who identified himself as an attorney for the Bauer family, said Bauer continues to receive treatment, and the family has accrued extensive medical bills.
This incident brought national attention to the problem of brawls and other types of violence among fans at sporting events.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said shortly after the assault that it was "absolutely inexcusable."
Circuit Judge Lynn Stewart Mays imposed a sentence of probation before judgment for Smith. This means he can erase the conviction if he successfully completes the probation.
Nappi received a one-year suspended sentence in addition to 18 months probation.
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State prosecutors had recommended six years of jail time for both men, suspending all but six months.
Andrew Alperstein and Marc Zayon, attorneys for Smith and Nappi, said their clients had expressed remorse for their actions.
Sharon Bauer said she originally wanted the two to "rot in jail," but would accept whatever decision the judge made.She implored both of them to make better decisions and to consider the effect they have had on her family.
"I don't think you could ever imagine what it's like, and I hope you never do," she said.