After hearing six days of witness testimony and multiple jailhouse recordings of defendants apparently speaking candidly about the night of the incident, a judge Friday ordered Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood to stand trial for beating Giants fan Bryan Stow. Over a year after the incident on 2011's Opening Day at Dodger Stadium, Stow is still suffering from brain trauma.
Sanchez is accused of delivering the blow that seemingly knocked Stow unconscious. Multiple witnesses described a "crack" as Stow hit the ground, head first, hands at his sides. Witnesses also said a man, who prosecutors said was Sanchez, kicked Stow in the head after he fell. Norwood, who is engaged to Sanchez's sister, is accused of aiding and abetting Sanchez, and possibly kicking Stow in the ribs after he fell.
Both men are charged with mayhem, assault with intent to cause great bodily injury, and battery with intent to cause great bodily injury. Sanchez also faces an enhancement for allegedly causing great bodily injury, as well as two additional misdemeanor charges for allegedly throwing soda on a female Giants fan during the game, and allegedly punching another young Giants fan in the parking lot. If convicted, Sanchez faces a maximum of 11 years in state prison and Norwood 9 years. Both men are also in the midst of fighting federal weapons charges.
After Judge George Lomeli announced his decision, and the courtroom cleared, Dorene Sanchez, Norwood’s fiancé, was seen crying in the hallway. Her testimony proved valuable for prosecutors, who were able to paint a picture of the full day of the game through her account—particularly, she testified as to where the group had parked, the fact that the men had tousled with Giants fans, and that Louie Sanchez had been drunk and aggressive during and after the game. She also testified that Norwood had blood on his hand when he returned to the car after allegedly chasing after Louie and a group of Giants fans.
The Judge cited the blood as sufficient cause to try Norwood for the fight. Norwood’s lawyer had attempted to portray him as a mere bystander and would-be peacekeeper.
A number of jailhouse recordings also played into the judge’s decision. One, made in the minutes before and after participating in a police lineup on July 21, 2011, features Sanchez and Norwood discussing their predicament. On the tape, Sanchez repeatedly apologized to Norwood.
“You guys don’t deserve this [expletive],” Sanchez says, apparently about his sister and Norwood. “It’s all my fault.”
“I wasn’t going to let you get your ass kicked,” Norwood says.
Later, Sanchez describes the fight that defense attorneys argue was a different altercation than the incident that injured Stow.
“I says to them, I said, Bro, I said, Hold on,” Sanchez says. “And I walked over [inaudible]. I tell them, ah [expletive] you guys. Disrespect my family like that…And I socked him [inaudible] jumped him, and started beating him [inaudible].”
Norwood, a little later, says, “Bro I was scared bro. I didn’t say anything. Started swinging, grabbed you, and then we took off.”
“Louie said you kicked him in the neck,” Norwood says, apparently referring to Sanchez’s son, also named Louie.
“I didn’t say [expletive],” Sanchez says.
In arguing for charges to be dismissed, Norwood’s attorney, Victor Escobedo, told the judge that Norwood, who according to witnesses, extracted Sanchez from a couple scuffles earlier in the day, was merely trying to prevent Sanchez from injuring anyone and vice versa. He argued that Norwood’s behavior throughout the day was not consistent with the DA’s portrayal of the man as a rabid Dodger fan, looking for a fight.
Sanchez’s attorney, Gilbert Quiñones, pointed to the unreliability of eyewitness accounts of the day, including the fact that only one witness said she was sure Sanchez and Norwood were the men who attacked Stow.
The judge, explaining that his burden of proof is finding probable cause that the crimes took place and that the defendants were responsible—as opposed to a jury, which must be sure beyond a reasonable doubt to convict—sided with the District Attorney.
As a default, the men will stand trial together. Defense attorneys did not say whether they will seek separate trials.
They will next appear in court on June 22, 2012.