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Inmate charged with
unprovoked, violent outburst

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

A failed purse snatcher, serving the last few months of his sentence in the Clayton County Jail, allegedly beat a 51-year-old inmate's face into the floor.

The older prisoner's face was so badly broken he will have to have reconstructive surgery, according to court records.

Ricardo Cornelius Hurston was supposed to get out of jail in July, but now he's being held on charges of aggravated assault and battery. He was indicted by a grand jury on Wednesday.

In 2003, Hurston was arrested while trying to snatch a purse from a 77-year-old woman.

The woman was walking out of the Wholesale Food Outlet in Jonesboro in June, five years ago, and Hurston ran up to her and tried to rob her, according to court documents. She held on to her purse tightly, and Hurston couldn't get the money, so he pushed the woman down and ran away.

He was arrested by an off-duty officer, who was providing security. Hurston pled guilty -- politely answering the judge with, "sir, yes sir" -- and was sentenced to two years in jail and three on probation, records show.

Out on probation last August, Hurston was re-arrested for shoplifting in Atlanta and for failure to report to his probation officer.

He plead guilty again in March of 2008. The judge asked him if there was anything he wanted to add to the record at the plea hearing, and Hurston just said, "no sir." He was sentenced to serve the remaining four months of the time from the first charge.

A month later, the convicted purse snatcher and shoplifter allegedly became violent, for no apparent reason. At about 12:30 p.m., on April 7, in Unit 5, Section 6 of the Clayton County Jail, Hurston allegedly attacked James Herbert Harper, Jr.

Sheriff's deputies reported that Hurston punched Harper in the back of the head with his fist, threw him face-down into the concrete floor, kicked him in the head repeatedly and then attacked him with a food tray.

According to the grand jury indictment, Hurston hit the man's face into the floor with that tray, "until he had caused multiple facial and skull fractures."

Deputies said Harper "didn't initiate any aggressive behavior" and "didn't attempt to defend himself." They said the alleged assault was "unprovoked," and gave no reason for it.

Harper was eight months into a 16-month misdemeanor sentence on charges of battery and cruelty to children. He has a history of battery and family violence going back 20 years, according to Clayton County records.

The alleged attack was stopped by other inmates, according to a deputy's report. Harper was taken to Southern Regional Medical Center.

Hurston is facing a maximum possible sentence of 65 years in prison, if found guilty of the attack.