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After tango with death, 'hero' bartender faces attacker

Friday - 10/5/2012, 5:22pm  ET

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Mike Boone, a bartender at Trusty's in Southeast, was stabbed eight times while trying to walk a woman home safely from the bar May 1. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
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Editors Note: An earlier version of this story stated that the robbery charge against James Moyler was dropped. It was not.

Michelle Basch, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - It was a dramatic day in court for a local bartender many call a hero.

Back in May, Mike Boone, a bartender at Trusty's in D.C.'s Hill East neighborhood, offered to walk a woman patron home at closing time.

During the walk, a purse-snatcher popped out of some bushes and grabbed the woman's purse. But Boone grabbed it back.

The two men fought and Boone was stabbed eight times.

The woman wasn't hurt.

The attack happened May 1, and now the man responsible was sentenced Sept. 11 by a judge.

While heading to the courtroom to hear the recent sentence, Boone admits he had some crazy thoughts.

"I went into the place wishing I could just have 5 seconds to stab the guy myself. Just let me have one stab at the guy ... but that's stupid, really."

Before the sentencing, Boone read a statement.

"I looked the defendant James Moyler in the face and told him that I hoped that he got what he deserved, and that was pretty intense. My knees were shaking and I was nervous as hell," says Boone.

Then Moyler was given a chance to speak.

"He got up and immediately turned his back to the judge and spoke directly to me asking for forgiveness, saying he was sorry. He said he wasn't really sure why he did what he did to me, and he apologized profusely," says Boone.

"His attorney discussed his (Moyler's) past and it was a long, horrible disgusting history of violence. Horrible things that happened to him with his family since he was a child. He's now, I believe he's 43 years old, and he was kind of like a 14-year-old child," says Boone.

Moyler's background includes sexual abuse, mental problems, drug use, multiple stabbings and multiple jail sentences.

In this latest case, Moyler was originally charged with assault with intent to kill, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of assault with a deadly weapon.

The judge pointed to Moyler's long rap sheet and decided to impose a sentence of 14.5 years, for both robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.

Boone said he expected a sentence of seven to eight years.

"I'm happy he got put away, (but) unhappy that he will probably never get the mental attention that he needs or the help. Because he's a sick person and should not be forgotten that way by just (being) put in a cage," says Boone.

"At this point, I can't forgive the guy. I mean he asked me to forgive him, and, of course, you want to forgive somebody. That helps you get on with your life at some point and do things mentally, but I can't forgive the guy for what he did. Not right now."

Even though his wounds have healed and his attacker sentenced, Boone's troubles continue.

Boone doesn't have health insurance, and the bills for his treatment, including a stay at Medstar Washington Hospital Center, have gone to collections.

"To owe $60,000 for protecting a woman on the sidewalk, really? They're actually coming after me for this money," says Boone, who expects his wages will eventually be garnished.

Two fundraisers collected around $17,000 to help Boone pay his bills.

No additional fundraisers are planned, but Boone continues to accept donations through PayPal to his email account: mike.boone@yahoo.com.

Initially, Boone says he was placed in the hospital under the name "John Tango Doe," which appeared on his hospital bracelet.

He says a firefighter later told him doctors didn't think he would live, and that "Tango" was a reference to his tango with death.

Boone says "John Tango Doe" is now a nickname some friends call him for laughs.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)