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Nebraska man accused of hate crime stabbing at Ontario truck stop appears in court

"Your honor this is a hate crime of the highest order, your honor. It's hard to imagine something more malevolent," the deputy district attorney said in court.

VALE, Oregon — Nolan Strauss, the 26-year-old man accused of stabbing a man repeatedly at an Arby's in Ontario on Saturday in what police and prosecutors say is a hate crime, appeared in the Malheur County Court on Monday for his arraignment.

Strauss is charged with second-degree attempted murder, assault in the first degree, bias crime, and unlawful use of a weapon.

Ontario Police arrested Strauss on Saturday morning in connection to the stabbing of 48-year-old Ronnel Hughes at an Arby's at a Pilot truck stop in Ontario. Police say Strauss stabbed Hughes repeatedly in the neck, unprovoked and without warning.

Hughes is now out of the ICU and conscious after being in emergency surgery for five hours, according to his girlfriend. She told KTVB that she is from the area but the two had just moved to Ontario. Hughes is originally from North Carolina.

She added that Hughes was sitting in the Arby's to drop off some paperwork that the restaurant needed so he could be hired there. That's when Strauss allegedly attacked him with a knife without warning.

RELATED: Man repeatedly stabbed in the neck in Ontario, police suspect it was a hate crime

"Your honor this is a hate crime of the highest order, your honor. It's hard to imagine something more malevolent," the deputy district attorney said in court. "And it's really just through the grace of God and working through and excellent trauma team, rapid police response and the incredible surgery department at the hospital that this is not an aggravated murder case."

Strauss was previously arrested convicted of assault in the third degree when he strong-armed a police officer in Lincoln, NE in 2018. Strauss pleaded down to a misdemeanor and served six months in jail.

The judge set Strauss's bond to $250,000 and included a no-contact provision and no possession of any dangerous weapon.

The defense attorney asked that bond be set at $50,000, claiming that there is only one act being alledged, instead of four separate acts.

"Every charge on here is really a different way of pleading the same act," he said. "There's only one singular act was alleged, so we would ask a single bail amount be set, and we would suggest $50,000."

The Oregon legislature revamped the state's hate crime laws earlier this year. The changes were done in order to strengthen the state's hate crime laws. One of the changes was to the definition of a bias crime, which now makes it a felony to threaten or assault an individual based on their "membership in a protected class." 

RELATED: Oregon adds gender identity to hate crime protections

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