Florida Keys

He sucker-punched a man. Now, it’s off to prison for manslaughter

Fred Roy Hauch
Fred Roy Hauch

A Florida Keys homeless man has been sentenced to eight years in state prison for beating a man to death in 2017.

Fred Roy Hauch, 55, pleaded no contest to the manslaughter of Steven Lee Sanderson, 62., who police said was also homeless.

Monroe County Circuit Judge Timothy Koenig sentenced Hauch on June 24.

The plea bargain was struck in part due to Hauch’s cooperation with prosecutors and his remorse, according to the plea form filed at the Monroe County Courthouse. Manslaughter carries a maximum term of 15 years.

Hauch and Sanderson were at the Chevron gas station, 1126 Truman Ave., on Aug. 18, 2017, and Sanderson was speaking negatively of an off-duty Chevron employee.

Hauch asked the employee if he should “Kick his [Sanderson’s] a--”

The employee said yes, telling police later that she thought Hauch was joking around.

Hauch then sucker-punched Sanderson twice in the head and rode off on a bicycle.

Sanderson was seated when Hauch threw the first punch.

Sanderson’s suffered severe injuries and was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

He died on Aug. 20, 2017, and a medical examiner ruled the cause was “blunt force head injury.”

The night of the beating, a doctor at Ryder told Key West police Sanderson had a brain bleed and “would likely be brain dead in the following days,” according to the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office.

A medical examiner ruled the cause “blunt force head injury.”

Hauch was originally arrested on a charge of felony battery. After Sanderson died, police upgraded the charge to murder. But Monroe County State Attorney Dennis Ward’s office charged Hauch with manslaughter.

After Sanderson was taken to Ryder, police found someone who knew Hauch, who got him on the phone and handed the phone to police. Hauch agreed to meet with them.

He said he punched Sanderson, the first time while Sanderson was seated. He “delivered the second strike” while Sanderson was standing.

Hauch told police Sanderson never threatened him and that he “did not intend to seriously hurt Sanderson.”

In a letter to Koenig, Hauch said he has struggled with alcoholism and asked for probation and to be sent to a rehabilitation center instead of prison.

In 2009, he said, he stayed sober for two years after being in treatment.

Hauch said he worked in construction and wanted to be able to get a job after he leaves prison rather than rely on a disability check.

“I realize my charges are somewhat extreme for what I’m going to request,” Hauch wrote. “I know I’m asking a lot, actually more than probably I deserve.”

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