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3 Filmmakers Face Trial Over 'Bumfights' Video

A fourth man pleads guilty to a conspiracy charge in the arranging and videotaping of staged fights and stunts by homeless alcoholics.

March 18, 2003|Beth Silver | Special to The Times

EL CAJON, Calif. — Three producers of the controversial "Bumfights" video have been ordered to stand trial on misdemeanor charges that they paid homeless alcoholics to fight in front of the camera.

The underground filmmakers, appearing Monday in San Diego County Superior Court, turned down a settlement offer to plead guilty to soliciting battery and one of two counts of promoting an illegal fight.

A fourth filmmaker, Michael Slyman, 21, pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of conspiracy to commit prize-fighting. "I just wanted to get it over with," Slyman said outside the courtroom. He would not say whether he has continued to work with the other defendants on any new videos.

Slyman's attorney and Deputy Dist. Atty. Curtis Ross said Slyman probably would face no jail time. "He's the least culpable," Ross said. "He's not the leader of the group."

The trial for the other three is scheduled for June 2 and is expected to last as long as three weeks. If found guilty, they face as much as a year in County Jail.

In January, a Superior Court judge dismissed felony charges against the defendants: Zachary Bubeck, 24; Ryan McPherson, 19; Daniel J. Tanner, 21, and Slyman. The alleged victims had trouble in court remembering if they had acted voluntarily or for money.

Three men who appeared in the video filed civil lawsuits against the filmmakers. The $20 video, which sold about 300,000 copies in stores and on the Internet, showed them fighting one another, banging their heads into steel doors and performing other stunts.

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