MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A man who is accused of beating up a tourist in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood in January 2020, formally accepted a plea deal Wednesday and will serve 120 days in jail.
Malcom Foster, then 26, of Sunny Isles Beach, was arrested on Jan. 9, 2020, after video surveillance showed two muscular men following a tourist and one of them, identified as Foster, knocking him unconscious near South Miami Avenue and Southwest 11th Street on the morning of Jan. 2.
According to police, both men then returned and rummaged through the victim’s pockets, taking his cash and iPhone.
Following his arrest, Foster was booked into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.
Foster, who surrendered to authorities after seeing himself on the news, is who police said delivered the knockout punch.
Police arrested a second man, Jerome Taha on Jan. 17, 2020, for his alleged role in the seemingly random attack.
Authorities said Taha, then 29, was identified by a Miami Beach police officer who had previously arrested him. That officer saw the surveillance footage and contacted Miami police.
After being seen crying before the judge, Foster was remorseful about the incident.
“This is hard,” said Foster. ”I am sorry--I am sorry.”
After not agreeing with the original plea agreement in which Foster was initially expected to serve 90 days in jail, the victim through his attorney Neil Kirch, asked Judge Robert Watson to watch the violent video.
“The force of the blow rendered him unconscious, cracked head, laying in a pool of blood,” said Kerch.
After reviewing the video, Watson ruled to extend Foster’s sentence to 120 days in jail followed by 4 years of probation without early termination.
Adjudication was withheld, which means Foster was technically not convicted in the incident.
“It’s important because you won’t lose the right to vote, the right to carry firearms or to run for office,” said the judge.
Foster is required to complete an anger management course, send a letter of apology to the victim, stay away from the victim and undergo substance abuse and mental health evaluation with treatment if recommended.
Foster’s defense attorney, Mauricio Padilla, requested that Foster be allowed to spend the holidays with his family and start serving the 120 days in the new year on Jan. 15, 2023.
Watson set that back by a few days to Jan. 4, but granted the defense’s request to allow him to spend the holidays with his family after Foster’s family said his stepfather, a combat veteran suffering from PTSD, died by suicide.
Moments after Foster’s mother wept in court after the judge wished the family “happy holidays” following a sentence the victim of the brutal beating thought was too lenient, she emerged from the courtroom angry, blasting her middle finger at the news camera.
Kirch told Local 10 News’ Christina Vazquez, “We are happy Mr. Foster has been brought to justice for the crime and hopefully he learns from his mistake.”
Foster’s restitution amount will be determined by a judge in the next 30 days.
Court records show that in September 2020, a judge found the co-defendant Taha guilty of the felony charges.
Taha pleaded guilty to strong-armed robbery and battery and was ordered to pay just over $8,000 in restitution.
A Florida Department of Corrections spokesperson told Local 10 News that Taha is currently serving felony probation and the scheduled termination date for his probation is Sept. 2, 2029.
The victim released the following statement to Local 10 News:
“I am glad I exercised my right to be heard as a victim. Unfortunately, It took me hiring my own attorney to finally feel represented when it should be the State that fully represents a victim,” he said. ”I am glad the judge took the opportunity to view evidence, namely the video of the attack before agreeing to a plea offered by the State Attorney which was nowhere near the 19-month guideline for these charges, guidelines set by the state that already take into account prior records.”
“I wish the judgment and punishment outcome for this brutal attack and robbery better fit the crime, injuries and life impact a bit more but happy to put this behind me - a process that took almost three years, beginning with having to track down video footage the Miami PD weren’t willing to make an effort to find themselves,” the victim added.