cbs2.com, April 24, 2007
Two black youths accused of taking part in the Halloween mob beating of three white women would spend only a few months in custody if they plead guilty to assault, a prosecutor said.
The 15-year-old Jordan High School students were offered a pretrial deal Monday in Inglewood, where their case is being heard.
They would spend no more than three months each in the California Youth Authority if they plead guilty to one count each of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, prosecutor Andrea Bouas said.
The pleas would carry special allegations that the alleged assault was a hate crime and caused great bodily injury.
Negotiations continued, however.
“The mother of one of these young men came up with a counteroffer: She does not want her son to admit to a hate crime because she does not view her family as hateful people,” Bouas said.
“The hate crime charge carries a stigma,” said Stephen Bolinger, a court-appointed attorney for one of the youths. “They would carry that with them for the rest of their lives.”
In January eight Long Beach girls and one man, ages 13 to 18, were convicted of felony assault and eight of them also were convicted of a hate-crime enhancement.
They were sentenced to probation and house arrest after spending about three months in custody during their trials.
The lack of jail time has prompted a recall campaign against Long Beach Superior Court Judge Gibson Lee.
Meanwhile, family members of the convicted youths and their supporters also called for Lee’s recall Monday and announced that they intended to sue Long Beach for civil rights violations.
“The judge needs to be recalled because this was a miscarriage of justice,” said James M. Thomas, pastor of Living Word Community Church in Los Angeles. “We are pretty sure these kids are going to be exonerated.”