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Judge bars evidence in Long Beach hate crime trial

A DNA analysis that matched blood from a victim and a stain on the clothing of defendant will not be allowed, a source says.

December 15, 2006|Joe Mozingo | Times Staff Writer

In a closed hearing, a judge in the trial of 10 black juveniles charged with attacking three white women in Long Beach on Halloween barred evidence Thursday that one of the minors -- a 16-year-old black girl -- had blood on her pants that was DNA-matched to one of the victims, a source involved in the case said.

"The judge ruled that it would be too time-consuming," said the source, who asked to remain anonymous because the proceeding was held in chambers and was not open to the public.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Andrea Bouas was furious, the source said.

The Times submitted a letter Monday asking Superior Court Judge Gibson W. Lee not to close the proceeding in the trial of nine girls and a boy charged with the attacks, as well as that of two 15-year-old boys who are expected to go to trial in January.

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley charged 10 of the 12 juveniles with a hate crime enhancement.

The case has gained national attention, particularly on conservative websites and talk radio stations and among civil rights groups concerned about how authorities and the media treat an alleged black-on-white hate crime.

Defense lawyers refused to comment on the DNA analysis, saying that it was provided to them far too late to be introduced as evidence -- more than two weeks into the trial -- and that it pertains to just one of the 10 minors on trial.

The analysis, if accurate, would be the second bit of physical evidence that connects the minors to the beating; the cellphone of one of the three victims was recovered in a car bearing some of the defendants.

The three white women -- one age 21 and two age 19 -- were trick-or-treating and checking out the elaborate decorations on Linden Avenue in the Bixby Knolls area when they were attacked. A crowd of black youths allegedly screamed racial slurs, threw small pumpkins and fruit, and kicked and punched them to the ground. One of the victims, Loren Hyman, 21, suffered 12 fractures to the left side of her face.

The nine girls and one boy were detained shortly after the attack, in two cars identified by witnesses. All 10 were arrested and have been in custody ever since. Many of them are track athletes at local high schools, and one is a nationally recognized track star.

Times policy is not to identify juveniles accused of crimes unless they are being tried as adults.

So far, the crucial evidence against the 10 has been based on two people's testimony. Hyman told police she recognized at least four of them as having taken part; another witness told police she could identify eight as assailants, but on the stand admitted that she could not make out individuals during the attack.

The identification of the minors has come under intense scrutiny, mainly because the witnesses and victims were told the people they were identifying were the suspects and were given no other people to view.

On Thursday, defense attorneys questioned Long Beach Police Officer Justin Krueger in detail about the identifications.

In their statements to police, the minors said that they were at the scene of the assault, but that it was carried out by a group of black males wearing black-hooded sweatshirts.

Defense attorneys say two 911 calls from residents also suggest that the assailants were black males.

The minors on trial told police they got drawn into the melee when one of the males kicked Hyman in the back of a leg and she turned around and punched a black girl, mistakenly thinking the girl had kicked her.

Hyman's friend, another victim, gave a similar account to police.

The girl who is said to have had the blood on her pants was the one defendant who told police, after first denying it, that she knew the males involved.

She gave police seven names of those she said were involved, according to police reports obtained by The Times. All but one were 10th-graders at Jordan High School in Long Beach, she said.

Police would not comment on whether the two 15-year-old boys arrested later were among them.

The prosecution is expected to call its final witness to the stand today -- a man who helped break up the brawl.

joe.mozingo@latimes.com

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