One of two suspects in a racist attack on an autistic man appeared in Lowell Superior Court for a hearing Thursday afternoon. The other suspect, prosecutors said, is dead.
Prosecutors say two New Hampshire brothers, James Stephenson, 39, of Salem, and Jeremy Stephenson, 36, of Plaistow, attacked Jonathan Shumba, 22, outside a 7-Eleven in Dracut, Massachusetts, on Sept. 27.
The younger Stephenson died unexpectedly sometime after his first court appearance in early December, according to prosecutors who said in court that they received information from law enforcement as well as an online obituary.
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Investigators allege the Stephenson brothers jumped out of their car and punched Shumba before hurling racial slurs at him and throwing him through a glass window.
“It was terrible. I try to be on my best behavior, try to stay out of trouble mostly,” Shumba said of the attack in an earlier interview with NBC10 Boston. “I didn’t want to die on concrete; it was two against one. I was trying to survive mostly.”
Stephenson is due back in court Jan. 10. He faces several charges, including civil rights violations.