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3 Receive Lengthy Terms in Beating

West Hollywood man, who maintains he was attacked by the trio because he is gay, addresses his assailants in court.

September 27, 2003|Anna Gorman | Times Staff Writer

More than a year after he was disabled in an attack with a baseball bat, actor Trev Broudy looked directly at the men who had mugged him and told them he would triumph, despite their hate.

"I refuse to be a victim, in spite of what you did to me," he said defiantly, as tears flowed.

In an emotional hearing Friday at the Beverly Hills courthouse, Superior Court Judge Richard A. Stone sentenced the three men to lengthy prison terms.

The man accused of wielding the bat spoke out for the first time, saying he hadn't inflicted any injury on Broudy, and never would have.

"I have no evil in my soul and I have no evil in my heart," Torwin Sessions said.

Sessions was sentenced to 21 years in prison, Larry Walker to 13 years and Vincent Dotson to seven years. All three had pleaded guilty to mayhem and conspiracy to commit robbery. In exchange, prosecutors dropped an assault charge.

The Sept. 1, 2002, attack cast a spotlight on West Hollywood and the predominately gay neighborhood lived in by Broudy, who is gay.

The community responded with rallies and called for prosecutors to charge the three with hate crimes.

Despite the pressure, Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley did not file the case as a hate crime, saying there was no evidence that Broudy, 35, had been attacked because of his sexual orientation.

During the same year, Los Angeles County prosecutors filed 88 cases as hate crimes and secured several convictions, including one against Sergio Verdugo, who was found guilty on first-degree murder and hate-crime charges for killing a man because he was gay.

Earlier this month two men pleaded no contest to charges of attempted murder and hate crimes involving two separate attacks with a baseball bat on gay men in Hollywood soon after Broudy was assaulted.

During Friday's sentencing, Broudy said he still believed he had been targeted because he is gay.

"This is more than robbery," he said. "I think this is very obviously a hate crime."

He said the defendants had not asked him for money before they began striking him on the head.

"Why would you do that if you didn't have hatred in your souls?" Broudy asked his assailants.

Broudy had just hugged friend Teddy Ulett when he was hit in the head with a bat. Ulett was hit in the arm, but escaped and was not seriously injured.

Broudy was in a coma for more than a week. The attack left him unable to read, see clearly or drive. He has memory problems and has not been able to continue work as a voice-over actor.

West Hollywood Councilman John Duran said the outcome of the case was imperfect.

"Nobody will really know what happened that night," he said. "We just are all moving forward. And as a community, people will continue to be on their toes."

Broudy's mother, Joy Verner, expressed pride in progress her son has made since his release from a hospital last October. "He spoke from his heart," she said, hugging Broudy.

Sessions' failure to accept guilt angered Deputy Dist. Atty. Olivia Rosales.

"Trev will never be the same again," Rosales said.

Sessions accepted the plea deal to avoid the possibility of a life sentence, Deputy Public Defender Joe Modder said.

Modder said Sessions continued to deny hitting Broudy

Defense attorneys Seymour Applebaum and John R. Noble said their clients also did not want to run the risk of losing at trial.

In a report filed with the court, a probation officer advised that Sessions is "capable of this extreme and heinous behavior" and should be "locked up for as long as is legally possible."

According to the report, Sessions lived in foster care from the time he was 5 years old, and began smoking marijuana when he was 10.

A pre-sentence report also described Walker as a dangerous individual who is unwilling to take responsibility for his crime. Walker also lived in foster care from ages 8 to 18, and most recently lived at a home for the mentally disabled, according to the report.

Dotson was described as capable of rehabilitation.

A probation officer said he did not believe that Dotson, 19, who suffers from depression and has an alcohol problem, intended to harm anyone, but that he had done nothing to prevent the assault.

Both Sessions, 20, and Walker, 30, had previously been convicted of robbery.

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