MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Ramsey County woman will serve six months behind bars for attacking a woman at a Coon Rapids restaurant last fall.
Jodie Burchard-Risch, 43, pleaded guilty to felony third-degree assault as part of a plea deal Tuesday.
She admitted to hitting Asma Mohamed Jama across the face with a beer mug at an Applebee’s on Oct. 30, 2015.
Jama was eating dinner with her family and speaking in their native language, Swahili, when she was attacked. She says it changed her life forever.
She spoke directly to Burchard-Risch in front of a packed courtroom Tuesday.
“What you did to me that day wasn’t good,” Jama said. “You should never do anything like that to anybody.”
Jama went on and let her attacker know how the incident has impacted her life.
“I use to be a carefree person, and now I can’t go anywhere by myself,” Jama said.
Court records say Burchard-Risch smashed the beer mug across Jama’s face in a roundhouse-punch motion and then ran from the restaurant.
Applebee’s employees actually followed her until police arrived to take her into custody.
The punch caused deep cuts to Jama’s nose, right eye and lower lip.
Jama says she still carries the scars from that night, but she does not carry hate in her heart for her attacker.
“In front of everybody here, I do forgive you and I hope that you choose love over hate,” Jama said.
Burchard-Risch had nothing to say to the court or to Jama. Her attorney says he believes the sentence and treatment requirement handed down by the court will help his client.
“I don’t see her as a lunatic. I don’t see her as a racist. I see her as someone not unlike many others that come before the court that has an alcohol problem that brought her here,” said attorney Rod Tschida.
Burchard-Risch will spend about six months behind bars, and then will serve five years of probation.
The reason prosecutors did not charge her with a hate crime is because a third-degree assault charge carries a heavier penalty.
Jama says she will continue to be an advocate to enhance hate crime laws in Minnesota.