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Felon accused of sucker-punching man in NYC, fracturing his skull and leaving him in coma, released with no bail after charges downgraded from attempted murder

Image source: WCBS-TV video screenshot, composite

A felon accused of sucker-punching a man in New York City — fracturing the victim's skull and leaving him in coma — was released with no bail Thursday after charges against him were downgraded from attempted murder to assault and harassment.

What are the details?

Police said surveillance video from last Friday night shows 55-year-old Bui Van Phu putting on gloves, walking up behind 52-year-old Jesus Cortez, and then sucker-punching Cortes in the back of the head and knocking him to the ground on East 188th Street in the Fordham section the Bronx, WCBS-TV reported.

Cortes has a fractured skull and is in a coma, WCBS said in follow-up story, citing the Bronx District Attorney.

New York City Police believe Cortes and Phu had been inside the Fuego Tipico restaurant on East 188th Street just prior to the unprovoked attack, the station said, adding that police said the sucker punch came "without prior conversation or altercation."

Phu has a criminal history dating back to 1989, WCBS reported. He's been on lifetime parole for raping a 17-year-old girl on Christmas Eve in 1994, WABC-TV reported, citing state records.

Cortes is an immigrant from Mexico, WCBS said, adding that he attends church and is very active with a Mexican folklore group in the Bronx.

What else?

The NYPD charged Phu with attempted murder after arresting him Wednesday, the New York Post reported.

But the Daily Mail said court records it obtained indicate Phu's charges are now third-degree assault and second-degree harassment — misdemeanors — because he "intentionally (caused) physical injury and with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person."

A DA’s office spokesperson told the Post that "when we got the case, we evaluated and charged based on evidence we had. The investigation is continuing.”

Phu allegedly confessed the crime to his parole officer, the paper added, citing the complaint against him.

“I hit someone, and he’s in the hospital. I don’t know if he’s dead,” Phu told the parole officer, the Post noted, citing the complaint. “The police are looking for me.”

Phu is on supervised release, the Daily Mail said.

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