A man has been jailed for a decade after he spat in another man's face and told him he'd infected him with coronavirus during an argument over face masks.
The fight broke out at a Vision 4 Less store in Des Moines, Iowa, on November 11 last year, when victim Mark Dinning reportedly asked Shane Wayne Michael, 42, to secure his face mask over his nose.
Michael allegedly told Dinning: "If I have it, you have it" during the attack, implying he'd infected the victim with Covid-19, reports the Iowa Capital Dispatch.
Michael claimed that the victim initiated the fight when he "shoulder-checked" him and "poked him in the stomach" after the two men had left the store.
But according to Dinning and a witness, it was Michael who followed him outside and began attacking him.
The victim said that when the pair fell to the ground, Michael jabbed him in the eye and he responded by biting him on the arm.
It was then that Michael 'kneed him in the groin several times', lowered his mask, spit on him, coughed on him and shouted: "If I have it, you have it!"
Police arrested Michael and he was charged with assault causing bodily injury.
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He was offered a plea deal in February by prosecutors in Polk County, which would have allowed him to enter a plea of wilful injury causing bodily harm – getting him just two years of probation.
Michael rejected his deal, and instead opted for a jury trial.
He was found guilty on April 1 and sentenced to 10 years behind bars on Wednesday.
Michael’s family spoke out following the sentencing, saying they thought it was 'harsh'.
Dad Dennis Michael told the Capital Dispatch: “It’s like [Dinning] got a black eye in a bar fight, and now my son is getting 10 years in prison.
"He’s not going to cover his nose and mouth because he can’t breathe due to asthma.
“And there was no mask mandate in place. It was just a request by Vision 4 Less that people wear a mask, and he was.”
Michael’s wife Becky said: “He’s my rock, he’s my protector. I don’t know what I’m going to do without him. I’m lost without him.”
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