Jury selected, testimony shared in first day of acid attack hate crime trial

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The trial is underway for the man charged with a hate crime for throwing acid on a Latino man in 2019.

Clifton Blackwell is accused of throwing acid at Mahud Villalaz after an argument over parking on Milwaukee's south side in November of 2019. Blackwell allegedly called Villalaz "illegal" and told him to "go back" to his country. Villalaz is a U.S. citizen from Peru.

Jury selection ended with the final 14 jurors including nine women and five men.

During opening statements, the state emphasized how race played a factor in the case.

"This is charged as a hate crime based on what [Blackwell] says to Mr. Villalaz and why he's picking him out for parking, encroaching on a bus stop and saying these terrible things to him," Assistant District Attorney Jessica Bellows told jurors.

Blackwell's attorney framed the case as one of self-defense.

"But when Mr. Villalaz turned it physical, that's when Mr. Blackwell had the privilege to respond in the way that he did," Blackwell's attorney, Michael Plaisted, said.

The first day of the trial ended with Mahud Villalaz' testimony. The state showed jurors security video of the incident as well as pictures of Villalaz' injuries. Villalaz talked about the moment the acid hit his face.

"It was really painful, really burning, really painful," Villalaz said. "It was kind of slow motion, when he threw it at me I only turned my head and I could see my vision get blurry."

Villalaz' testimony continues Tuesday with cross examination. The trial is expected to last three to four days.

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