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Long Terms Possible in Gay Attacks

Crime: West Hollywood community is relieved at apparent break in case. One victim may have suffered brain damage. Hate-crime charges may be filed.

October 03, 2002|KENNETH REICH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Police are considering hate-crime charges punishable by at least 18 years in prison for men arrested on suspicion of beating two gay men with a baseball bat, police said Wednesday.

West Hollywood Sheriff's Capt. Lynda Castro said the suspects, who are being investigated for possible affiliation with a street gang, could face life in prison if one victim, actor Treve Broudy, has suffered brain damage.

City officials expressed relief at the apparent break in the case.

Castro identified the suspects Wednesday as Larry Walker, 29, and Vincent Dotsun, 18, both of South Los Angeles.

A third possible suspect, arrested a month ago in connection with a separate crime, was being interviewed and may be charged, Castro said. He has not yet been identified.

Castro said authorities are considering charges of assault with a deadly weapon, attempted robbery and commission of a hate crime, in connection with the Sept. 2 attack on Broudy and Edward Lett.

No home addresses were released for Walker and Dotsun, and no more information could be obtained.

Arraignments in Superior Court in Beverly Hills could be as early as today.

Castro disclosed Wednesday that in addition to the provider of an anonymous tip, deputies know two other people who offered tips in the case and may be eligible for rewards totaling $91,000 if there are convictions.

Detectives are still investigating whether any of the men in custody were involved in two other assaults against gay men that took place last month in West Hollywood, where it is estimated that one-third of the population is gay.

"The ... station wants to extend its tremendous appreciation to the hundreds of community volunteers, friends, city staff and members of the media that helped to publicize this horrendous crime and distribute the suspects' composites and reward information, which ultimately helped lead to the arrest of these vicious and dangerous suspects," read a statement issued by the West Hollywood Sheriff's Station.

In a city where the relationship between the sheriff's office and the gay community used to be poor, Castro said she was pleased that the community seemed to have gained confidence in the work of her law enforcement personnel.

"On Santa Monica Boulevard last night, people were cheering our deputies and giving them thumbs up," she reported.

"We've received more than 50 calls and e-mails thanking us for our efforts, and even a basket with goodies," she added.

Castro said she hoped the crimes will give rise to a better community spirit and more willingness to promptly report such offenses when they occur.

Also speaking out was Paul Koretz, a former mayor of West Hollywood and now Democratic assemblyman representing the area in the Legislature.

"The sheriff did great work and the community really came together for this," Koretz said. "It was very gratifying that all the groups each kicked in on the reward, which kept increasing ... and that we were able to revive the community crime watch group."

Broudy is still recovering from critical wounds suffered in the attack. Castro said his doctor believes there is a possibility of brain damage.

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