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Witness' vehicle is rammed, police say

December 07, 2006|Joe Mozingo | Times Staff Writer

Police say gang members rammed the car of a young woman in an apparent attempt to intimidate her from testifying in the Halloween hate crime trial in Long Beach.

Kiana Alford, 18, was in court at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday when neighbors saw three or four males back into her car, which was parked in front of her house, with such force that it was totaled and had to be towed away, Long Beach police said.

In court, Alford had testified that she witnessed eight of the 10 black youths on trial take part in a racially motivated beating of three white women on Halloween night in the Bixby Knolls area. The juveniles -- nine girls and one boy -- have been charged with assault with intent to commit great bodily injury; eight of them face hate-crime enhancements.

Police have escorted Alford to court since last week, when she said she found gang members waiting on her car one morning.

She finished as the prosecution's witness Tuesday, but defense attorneys reserved the right to recall her to the stand.

Long Beach Police Cmdr. Jeffry Johnson said that officers were protecting her and that gang units were "beating the bushes" to find the men who were threatening her.

Alford's boyfriend called her after her testimony Tuesday to tell her about the car.

Witnesses told police three or four males wearing clothes typical of the Baby Insane Crips gang were involved in the ramming, Johnson said, but officers did not have a solid description of the vehicle. The case was assigned to detectives, but no suspects had been identified as of Wednesday evening.

Testimony on Wednesday was fairly uneventful, with Long Beach Police Officer John Gibbs describing the process by which Alford identified eight of the 10 minors on trial.

joe.mozingo@latimes.com

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