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Defendant says he came to victims' aid

Anthony Ross says he grabbed a skateboard from a male who was beating a white woman.

January 10, 2007|Joe Mozingo | Times Staff Writer

The sole male defendant in the Long Beach hate case took the stand Tuesday, testifying that he did not beat three white women but rather came to their rescue as they were under assault by a group of black youths.

Anthony Ross, 18, testified that he was sitting in a parked car, instant-messaging with his brother, when he saw the fight begin and a young "chubby" male strike one of the women with a skateboard and knock her to the ground. Ross, who is black, said he jumped out of the car as the youth raised the board to strike again.

"I hopped out of the car to take the skateboard from him and threw it," Ross said. "I told them I called police. They immediately ran."

"Her other friend was still fighting a boy. I broke that up and told her to just go, just go."

Ross and three of his sisters, his girlfriend and five female friends -- ages 12 to 18 -- are charged with assault with intent to create bodily injury in the incident in the Bixby Knolls section of Long Beach on Halloween. Eight of them, including Ross, face hate crime sentencing enhancements, based on allegations that racial slurs were uttered before the attack.

Two of the three victims were injured, according to testimony. Loren Hyman, 21, suffered 10 fractures to several bones in her face. Laura Schneider, who was allegedly hit by a skateboard, may have suffered a concussion, a physician testified.

Ross -- a track athlete from Long Beach Polytechnic High School -- was the first defendant to take the witness stand. He spoke in a calm manner as Deputy Dist. Atty. Andrea Bouas cross-examined. him in a sharp, accusatory tone.

She seized on the fact that Ross was using AOL Instant Messenger -- AIM -- to communicate with his brother.

"Isn't it true that AIM-ing is a way to communicate with others without having a record?" The audience laughed.

Responding to objections from the defense, Judge Gibson Lee told Ross not to answer the question.

At another point, Bouas asked Rosse who else was nearby when he said he grabbed the skateboard.

"Just another boy that she was fighting with when the skateboard guy hit her," Ross said.

Bouas asked how they were fighting.

Ross smiled. "She actually hit the first boy," he said. "He fell to the ground."

"You kind of smiled when you said that, why?" Bouas asked.

"Because it's funny seeing a girl drop a boy."

Ross testified that his group of 10, who knew each other mostly through track, went to Bixby Knolls because they wanted to go trick-or-treating and "nothing happens there ... no problems."

He said the group went to a haunted house at Linden Avenue and Bixby Road, then walked to a Taco Bell, where a group of 10 black males was acting up.

Then, Ross said, his group walked back to where a crowd of several dozen people was standing, at the corner. Ross said he then got into the car with the driver, adding that she never left her seat because her religion forbids trick-or-treating.

Ross was watching for his sisters in the rear-view mirror when he saw the white women walking through the crowd, he testified. They then crossed the street as his sisters and friends were doing the same, and the crowd began throwing small pumpkins, he said.

The women came near where he was sitting in the red car. "By then the boys came up and one tripped a white girl, and she was standing next to my twin sister," Ross testified. And the white girl "turned around and slapped my twin sister."

Another of the defendants then pulled Ross' twin sister out of the fray, he said, as the black males jumped in and began fighting the victims.

A good Samaritan, Marice Huff, broke up the fight, and told Ross to leave. "I said, 'I'm helping this girl.' He wasn't listening. He just said, 'Leave. Now. Go.'

"I said, "What did I do?' "

Bouas zeroed in on this because her star witness, Kiana Alford, said she saw one of the assailants asking himself, "What did I do?" before he jumped in a red car and fled the scene. Bouas has been trying to defend Alford since she wavered on cross-examination, and since Alford's companion that night testified that they came upon the victims only after the attack.

Toward the end of the session, Bouas tried to call Ross' judgment into question.

"So you just left your girlfriend of eight months with the guys that were being rowdy, and just got in the car?" she asked, incredulously.

Ross, again, was told not to answer.

*

joe.mozingo@latimes.com

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