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Attack Wasn't a Hate Crime, Suspect Says

Violence: He alleges that his friends leaped out of the stolen car he was driving and attacked two men, not knowing they were gay.

October 05, 2002|LOUIS SAHAGUN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The man accused of wielding a baseball bat in an attack on two gay men in West Hollywood last month said Friday in a jail interview that his two friends did it and that the victims' homosexuality wasn't an issue.

Torwin Sessions, 19, of Watts said he was driving a stolen car on Cynthia Street just off Santa Monica Boulevard the night of Sept. 2 when his two companions suddenly jumped out of the vehicle with a baseball bat.

"I heard the car doors slam ... then I saw the dude fall down," he said. "The two guys I was with got back in the car and just said, 'Go!' Everybody in the car was just hysterical and panicking."

Sessions said he "didn't know they were gay. That's not why everything happened."

He refused to elaborate.

Members of the West Hollywood community were outraged when Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley announced Thursday that his office would not file hate crime charges against the three suspects because there was no evidence that anti-gay epithets were yelled.

The district attorney charged Sessions, Larry Walker, 29, and Vincent Dotson, 18, each with one count of attempted robbery, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery. All three men, who were arrested Tuesday night in connection with the attack on actor Treve Broudy and Edward Ulett, pleaded not guilty in Superior Court on Thursday afternoon. Broudy remains hospitalized with possible brain damage.

Sessions' version of events contradicts the charges against him. The complaint alleges that he and his friend were out on a robbery rampage when he got out of the car and beat Broudy and Ulett. Sessions is charged with inflicting great bodily harm

"We believe the evidence will show that he wielded the bat," said Sandi Gibbons of the district attorney's office. "We will present all that information at a preliminary hearing, and we plan to ask the court that the hearing be televised."

Sessions is in County Jail on $215,000 bail and faces a possible 19-year state prison term.

"I didn't know it was going to happen," he said. "We were out joyriding, looking for girls on Sunset Strip. It was so crowded that we just took that other street and I slowed down to yield for traffic. Then everything happened."

Now, he said, "I'm deeply sorry. I made a mistake in my life. I wish I could take it all back."

Four Los Angeles City Council members said Friday that they will introduce a measure next week asking the district attorney's office to file hate crime charges against all three suspects.

"The evidence indicates that these attacks were motivated by hate and that hate crime charges should be filed," said Councilman Jack Weiss, a former federal prosecutor. "These were not garden variety attempted robberies; they were violent beatings with baseball bats in the heart of the gay community."

Cooley responded: "As a former prosecutor, Mr. Weiss fully knows the criteria for charging someone. I don't think he knows the evidence in this case, because if he did, he wouldn't be issuing this statement."

Other council members joining Weiss to introduce the measure are Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel and Tom LaBonge.

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