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D.A. rests hate case

A doctor testifies two of three victims were drinking on the night they were allegedly attacked by 10 black youths in Long Beach.

December 28, 2006|Joe Mozingo | Times Staff Writer

The prosecution in the trial of 10 black youths accused of beating three white women in Long Beach on Halloween night rested its case Wednesday with testimony from a physician that two victims had been drinking on the night of the melee.

The statement by Dr. George Patrick Bozeman, the emergency room doctor who treated the young women, contradicted earlier testimony from victim Loren Hyman, who said that she had not drunk alcohol.

Bozeman's testimony appeared to catch Deputy Dist. Atty. Andrea Bouas off-guard; she asked him to point out where he had noted alcohol consumption in his report. He pointed to EtOH, an abbreviation for ethanol.

Bozeman said that he did not recall the two victims being visibly inebriated, but that they told him they had been drinking. "My independent recollection is that they were at a Halloween party," Bozeman said. "They had some alcohol at the Halloween party."

Hyman, the only victim to testify during the monthlong trial, said she and her two friends went to a street in the Bixby Knolls area known for haunted houses and elaborate Halloween displays. While they waited for another friend to go to a party, they allegedly were attacked by up to 30 black youths, some shouting racial slurs.

Nine girls and one boy -- ages 12 to 17 -- were arrested later that night. They were charged with assault with intent to cause great bodily harm; eight face an added hate crime enhancement.

Two more boys have been arrested and are expected to go to trial in January.

The victims were treated by paramedics at the scene, then taken by police shortly after 10 p.m. to identify the 10 suspects in a nearby parking lot.

The doctor's testimony left open whether the victims had been drinking before the attack, or whether, despite their injuries, they went to the party and drank alcohol there.

Bozeman testified that he examined victim Laura Schneider, 19, at 1 a.m. at Los Alamitos Medical Center, and Hyman, 21, at 1:40 a.m.

Bozeman said Schneider had swelling and tenderness on her forehead and brow, bruising in her right eye and tenderness on her rib cage. The doctor concluded that Schneider, who had been knocked unconscious during the attack, probably suffered a concussion.

He didn't testify about Hyman's injuries because lawyers agreed that she had 12 facial fractures.

The defense is expected to call witnesses today.

Given the time constraints of Juvenile Court -- trial must start 14 days after the juvenile defendants are arraigned -- the case has been chaotic at times.

The first witness, Kiana Alford, had her car trashed by gang members who were trying to intimidate her from testifying further after she had spent five days on the stand, police said.

Alford had put forth a clean narrative of the attack that night, identifying eight of the defendants and specifically describing how each was involved. But at several points in a long cross-examination, she said she could not make out what individuals were doing.

The next twist came more than two weeks into the trial when Bouas announced that crime technicians, using DNA testing, had matched blood on one of the defendant's pants to one of the victims.

The defense attorneys cried foul, saying it was too late to introduce such explosive evidence. Judge Gibson Lee excluded the DNA evidence, ruling that it would take too much time to vet.

Last week, Bouas pulled the second eyewitness from the witness stand after hours of erratic, and sometimes incoherent, testimony. She said Marice Huff had told her that his wife no longer wanted him to take part after seeing a Geraldo Rivera TV segment on the attack.

joe.mozingo@latimes.com

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