A father-of-two has been left with half a skull and paralysed after a brutal beating - while his attacker served just 72 days in jail.
Steven Augustine has been fighting for his life in critical condition since May 28 after doctors say he was assaulted with a baseball bat as he walked home from work in the early hours.
Mr Augustine has been left paralysed after the left side of his shattered skull was removed - and is now fundraising for surgery so doctors can place a metal protector around his brain.
The 32 year old cannot give his account of the attack, but lawyers claim his attacker punched Mr Augustine just once, and his brain injury was sustained by falling backwards.
Mr Augustine is now suffering from sunken brain syndrome - a rare complication after a large craniectomy - giving the appearance that half of his head is missing.
His heartbroken mum Donna, 56, who has been by his side throughout the ordeal, says his condition is continuing to deteriorate.
“The left side of head shattered along with multiple skull fracture throughout his head and face and he has had bleeding on the brain,” she said.
Outrage over attacker’s short sentence
Donna says the family are outraged that Mr Augustine’s attacker, Charles L. Miles, received a misdemeanour charge and served just 72 days of his 365 day sentence at Ulster County Jail.
Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright told ABC 7 news that since Miles did not intend to cause serious physical harm to Augustine, his office could not bring felony assault charges against him.
Ms Carnright says it was the fall backwards that caused Augustine's serious head injury.
"The injuries to his face were consistent with a single punch, the skull fracture was consistent with a fall backwards," Ms Carnright said.
Steven's mum Donna, disagrees.
“Steven's hospital records clearly state his injuries are caused by blunt force trauma possibly with a baseball bat and the man who did it is now walking free,” she said.
Donna believes the sentence given to Miles was “light” and said she wants justice for her son “who is fighting every single day for his life”.
“Our whole family has been destroyed, we will never be the same again,” she said.
Family’s desperate plea for help
The family started a GoFundMe page to cover rising medical bills after Mr Augustine was moved to a different state for long-term care that isn’t covered by his insurance.
“He has health insurance, but it only covers medical bills in New York and he was moved to Columbus for long term acute care hospital in New Jersey meaning he is not covered,” Donna said.
Donna said medics have attempted to replace his skull with a steel plate, but it became infected twice.
“The surgery he needs could save his life, it will equal out the fluid around his brain and protect it – a slight bump to the area as it is now could be life threatening as it's just skin protecting his brain,” she said.
Donna said Mr Augustine has also been suffering with severe seizures and the medication to stop them is damaging his liver.
Donna spends two hours every day travelling to see her son, who can only communicate by blinking.
“My boy is fighting every day; he wakes up every time I walk in the room and he can blink to say yes and no,”
Mr Augustine’s two young sons have also visited, leaving him in tears.
“He cries every time he sees his sons Michael, seven and Steven Junior, 11, they cry too because they miss their daddy so much,” Donna said.
Miles pleaded guilty to assault in the third degree and was sentenced on September 17 last year to 365 days at Ulster County Jail ,but was released after 72 days and a mandated surcharge of $360.00.
“We are desperate for justice and any sort of financial help that could give my grandsons their daddy back.”
“I am heartbroken, my son is in a vegetated state,” Donna said.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.