A judge Friday sentenced four black teenagers to probation and 60 days of house arrest for their roles in the mob beatings of three white women on Halloween night, evoking tears of joy among the defendants and their relatives and gasps of indignation among the victims’ families.
Despite testimony that their involvement in the beatings varied, Lee handed identical sentences of probation, house arrest and 250 hours of community service to Anthony and Antoinette Ross, twins who turned 18 during the trial; to their 16-year-old sister; and to another 16-year-old described during the trial as Anthony’s girlfriend.
Another five teenagers convicted in the case are scheduled to be sentenced beginning Monday morning in the Superior Court. They have spent 95 days in custody.
But juvenile law experts say probation is common for youths with no criminal records.
“The whole idea is not to simply throw people into the criminal justice system,” said Daniel Macallair, executive director of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco. “The purpose of the juvenile justice system is not retribution; it’s not even punishment. It’s still rehabilitation.”
“A tenet of the juvenile system is to give a graduated response to the child acting out,” said Cyn Yamashiro, a professor at Loyola Law School and director of its Center for Juvenile Law and Policy.
The beatings, which took place on a street in Long Beach’s well-to-do Bixby Knolls section known for its lavish Halloween displays, roiled the city with allegations of racial hatred and violence. All 10 defendants maintained their innocence throughout the trial.
First up was Anthony, convicted of three counts of assault—two with hate-crime enhancements and two with enhancements for personally inflicting great bodily harm.
Bouas started her arguments by noting that even as the sentencing was underway, one of the victims, Loren Hyman, was undergoing facial reconstruction surgery to repair the multiple fractures in her nose and around her eye from the beatings.
Bouas called Anthony “the biggest aggressor,” who chose to beat Schneider “when she was already unconscious.” Moreover, she said, he clearly lied on the witness stand in denying his role in the attack.
“In the trial, the minor before you committed perjury,” she told the judge. “If he were to be released home on probation, there would be no accountability for that action.”
She added that a spate of fights in which Anthony was allegedly involved in the eighth and ninth grades showed a “history of violence.”
She asked for the maximum amount of time in camp: nine months.
“The victims will feel like there is no justice if he walks out that door,” she said.
Judge Lee noted that “it was an awful crime, terrible physical and emotional injuries.” But he said he had to “pick the least restrictive disposition.”
He then sentenced Anthony to probation, including 60 days of house arrest, during which he can leave only to go to school or church. The probation lasts until the teenagers are 21, although probation officials can end it earlier if the defendants stay out of trouble. Lee also ordered Anthony to perform 250 hours of community service and to attend an eight-week racial tolerance program offered by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Later, Laura Schneider and the third victim, Michelle Smith, spoke on the John Ziegler Show on KFI-AM (640) and accused the judge and the district attorney’s office of buckling to political pressure.
The Schneiders did not return to the courtroom as sentencing began for Anthony’s 16-year-old sister, who was not charged with the hate crime or convicted of the great bodily injury enhancement.
Bouas noted that she was the only minor found with blood on her clothes. The prosecutor said the girl came from the same bad home as Anthony and should not be allowed to return without time to rehabilitate in camp.
Judge Lee gave the 16-year-old the same sentence as her brother.
Bouas, choking up with emotion and weeping at points, accused the next minor, Antoinette, of directly causing Hyman’s injuries, although this was not clear from trial testimony.
Bouas urged the judge to look at each minor as an individual and not give blanket sentences of probation. “If we were really looking individually, she should get nine months in camp,” she said. “If she’s not eligible for a violent offender program, who is?”
Lee again ordered the same package of probation, house arrest and community service.
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