A 22-year-old San Clemente man pleaded not guilty Tuesday at his arraignment on charges of assaulting a man during what authorities claim was a gay bashing.
Christopher Michael Cribbins was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and committing a hate crime in the Jan. 9 beating of Loc Minh Truong, 55, of Costa Mesa. Truong was beaten and left on a rocky stretch of Laguna Beach near three gay bars.
If convicted, Cribbins faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Craig McKinnon argued in a closed session that bond for Cribbins, who is out of jail on $30,000 bail, should be increased to $100,000. However, Municipal Judge Arthur G. Koelle allowed the $30,000 to stand.
Cribbins, flanked by family members, declined to comment after his brief court appearance. His attorney, Deputy Public Defender Denise Gragg, said she doesn't believe that the evidence is strong enough to convict her client.
"I don't think the evidence is going to show that my client intended that anyone be hurt that night," Gragg said. "Regardless of what (Jeff) Raines did, I don't think the evidence is going to show that (Cribbins) planned the beating or knew what was going to be done."
Jeff Michael Raines, 18, of San Juan Capistrano last week was ordered to stand trial on charges of attempted murder and committing a hate crime. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Superior Court on Feb. 16.
The victim, Truong, who has undergone several facial operations, was in good condition Monday at Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo.
Prosecutors contend Cribbins called Truong a "fag" before shoving him against the jagged rocks. Prosecutors say Raines did the actual beating. Truong has said he isn't gay.
Koelle ordered Cribbins to return to South County Municipal Court on Feb. 23 for the preliminary hearing. At that time, Koelle will determine whether there is enough evidence to try Cribbins.