A juvenile court judge today convicted nine of 10 local black youths accused in the hate crime beating of three young white women during a mob melee on Halloween.
Long Beach Superior Court Judge Gibson Lee also handed down "true findings," the equivalent of guilty verdicts in juvenile proceedings, on hate crime charges against eight of the youths. The one minor who was cleared of the charges was a 12-year-old girl.
Lee announced the verdicts this afternoon, finding the petition, or charge, against nine of the 10 accused minors was true.
Some of the defendants hugged before the verdicts were read and some cried after hearing the decisions.
All 10 minors, nine girls and one boy ages 12 to 18, were charged with felony assault for the beating, which took place around 9 p.m. in the 3800 block of Linden Avenue, an affluent section of Bixby Knolls popular with trick-or-treaters for its lavish displays.
A hate crime enhancement was added to eight minors' charges, stemming from victim and witness statements that several youths within a crowd of 20 to 40 people yelled racial slurs as the victims were pelted with newspapers, fruit and pumpkins, then beat to the ground with fists, feet, a skateboard and tree branches.
A second enhancement -- that the accused personally inflicted great bodily injury on the victims -- was filed against nine of the defendants, said Jane Robeson, a spokeswoman for the county District Attorney's Office. Five of those nine -- youths age 13 to 18 -- were found guilty of that charge.
Those enhancements can significantly increase the sentences, Robeson said. Sentencing guidelines for crimes in Juvenile Court are the same as in adult court, but the authority of the California Youth Authority ends once the minors turn 25.
Sentencing is expected to occur within the next few weeks, following the recommendations of the county Probation Department. Victims and families of the accused will also be given an opportunity to address the court before Lee issues the sentences.
Sweet. It's always cases like this which give me a warm glow inside. It's just proof that our country and society is moving toward one of racial equality. It used to be in the old days that racism was restricted to whites and others in power. Now, however, we get to see that racial bigotry is a joy that all can participate in regardless of race or creed. The verdict gets an A+ in my book and should function as a civics lesson of sorts to show that all people are equally contemptable.
The only part about this whole senario I found infuriating was the defense that some black ministers and activists made in the case. It's one thing to argue that there might have been mistaken identity or other gobbilygook along those lines but some claimed that blacks couldn't be racist or commit hate crimes against whites by definition and that just cheeses me off. Frankly, the entire hate crime legislation is a crock IMO. Seldom do you see people getting a beat down out stemming from feelings of love and brotherhood. All violent crimes are usually hate crimes of one form or another. To then argue that no black person or other minority can be guilty of such an offense is just a crock. Anyone can be motivated by hate to act and this was a clear example of it.