Victim of Alleged Hate Crime Speaks Out

June 6, 2006--Posted at 6:50 p.m. CDT

BROSELEY, MO--19 year-old Craig Matthews is out of the hospital and recovering at his home in Broseley after being brutally attacked April 5th in Corning. Matthews has been home for 3 weeks recovering from a beating that nearly took his life. Doctors gave Matthews little to no chance of surviving but now he is happy to be on the road to recovery.

"I feel likeI was blessed with a miracle," saidMatthews.

Matthews was visiting his girlfriend in Corning when a confrontation arouse after a racial slur was used. The end result was Matthews being airlifted to a Cape Girardeau hospital after being hit in the head with a baseball bat.

"I remember being struck in the head with a bat, but I remember nothing after that," said Matthews.

38 year-old corning resident Don Groning has been charged in connection with this alleged hate crime.

"I'm told that after I passed out he hit me several times with the baseball bat and with bricks," said Matthews.

Although he suffered 20 fractures to his skull and at least 5 bruises on his brain, it could have been much worse.

"There's no telling, if Don Groning would have hit me 2 more times in the head, I would be dead," said Matthews.

"He was in surgery for like 6 hours and finally when the doctor came out and talked to me his first question was what happened this is the worst case I have ever seen," said Matthews' mother Debbie Brown.

Matthews has been home for 3 weeks and is still suffering some vision and short term memory loss.

Just coming out of the hospital and being so dependent on other people is hard, to not be able to do anything on my own," said Matthews.

While Matthews is on the road to recovery, doctors warn there still could be some long term effects, making it hard for him to forgive and forget.

"No I don't forgive him or his family, from whatI understand he tried to kill me, so there is no reasonI should forgive them," said Matthews.

According to Matthews this isn't the first time he has been confronted in Corning by racism.
Matthews alleges racial slurs and other obscenities were yelled at him in the past, and April 15th one of Matthews' friends was also subjected to what the family feels is racism at the crime scene.

"I was already in the ambulance, he was put in handcuffs. My friend and I were charged with criminal trespassing and no one else was charged at that time," said Matthews.

Despite these crimes Matthews' family believes justice will prevail.

"I'm going to trust the justice system andI have faith right now that it will come out ok," said Brown.

Craig Matthews is improving each week and has plans to attend Three Rivers Community College in the fall to study physical therapy. The former Poplar Bluff basketball and football star plans to attend there for 2 years and then transfer to Southeast Missouri State to play football. The suspect in this case, Donald Groning, is out of jail on a 75 thousand dollar bond.