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Two Deny Guilt in Hollywood Hate Assaults

Unlike another recent case, the victims were attacked because they were assumed to be gay, prosecutors say.

October 16, 2002|Richard Winton and Eric Malnic | Times Staff Writers

Two men pleaded not guilty Tuesday to hate-crime charges stemming from separate attacks Sunday on two men in Hollywood.

"The motive for the crime was the victims' perceived sexual orientation," said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office. "They used a slur for 'gay' toward the men and threatened their lives."

The district attorney's office stirred controversy earlier this month by deciding not to file hate-crime charges against three men accused of attacking two gay men in West Hollywood with baseball bats. In that case, Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said there was no evidence of a hate crime because the attackers made no remarks about the victims' homosexuality.

In the Hollywood case, Ever Wilfredo Rivera and Selvin Orlando Campos, both 19, were arraigned Tuesday on charges of robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. The charges carry a hate-crime enhancement, which means the men could face up to 14 years in prison.

Whether the victims are gay is not known, the district attorney's office said. Prosecutors said the hate-crime enhancement was added because the attackers struck on the presumption that they were.

Prosecutors said the attacks occurred on Lexington Avenue near Sycamore Avenue.

In the first, about 5:30 a.m., a 46-year-old man was struck in the head with a baseball bat and his keys were stolen before he was able to flee to his nearby home. About 10 minutes later, a short distance away, a 19-year-old man was able to deflect a blow from the bat but was cut with a knife.

Rivera and Campos were arrested a few minutes later when Los Angeles police stopped their vehicle on the Pasadena Freeway at Stadium Way.

The one victim's keys and a baseball bat were in the car, law enforcement sources said. Rivera is being held in lieu of $185,000 bail. Bail for Campos was set at $135,000.

The two victims, whose identities were not released, were treated at Hollywood-area hospitals and released.

In the West Hollywood case, Trev Broudy was attacked with a baseball bat moments after he and a friend, Edward Ulett, hugged goodbye Sept. 2. Ulett escaped serious injury but Broudy was hospitalized for more than a week with serious head injuries that left him temporarily in critical condition.

Larry Walker, 29, Vincent Dotson, 18, and Torwin Sessions, 19, were arrested later on suspicion of attempted robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery. The men have pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

On Oct. 3, Cooley angered several politicians, gay activists and sheriff's deputies by announcing that he would not file hate-crime charges against the three. Cooley said that his office is committed to prosecuting hate crimes but that a review of the evidence had shown that the motive in the West Hollywood attacks was robbery.

Last week, Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn urged Cooley to reconsider his decision in the West Hollywood case.

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Times staff writer Kenneth Reich contributed to this report.

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