Crime & Justice

Bryan Stow beating trial: 2 plead guilty in assault at Dodger Stadium; sentenced to prison (Update)

LOS ANGELES, CA, JUNE 08:  (R-L) Marvin Norwood, his attorney Victor Escobedo and co-defendant Louie Sanchez listen during preliminary proceedings in Superior Court June 8, 2012.
LOS ANGELES, CA, JUNE 08: (R-L) Marvin Norwood, his attorney Victor Escobedo and co-defendant Louie Sanchez listen during preliminary proceedings in Superior Court June 8, 2012.
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Two men charged with the beating of a paramedic at Dodger Stadium pleaded guilty to felony charges Thursday morning in the brutal attack.

Louie Sanchez, 31, pleaded guilty to mayhem and was sentenced to eight years in prison. The conviction will also count as a strike under California’s three strikes law.

Co-defendant Marvin Norwood, 32, pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to four years in prison. Both men faced charges of mayhem, assault and battery that could have led to longer prison sentences if convicted.

Stow, 45, was beaten in a parking lot after the 2011 opening day game of the Major League Baseball season between the Giants and Dodgers. He suffered brain damage and is permanently disabled, requiring 24-hour-care.


Update 12:53 p.m.: Dodgers respond to verdict

The L.A. Dodgers released the following statement following news of the sentencing of Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood for the beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow:

"We are pleased that the culpable parties have finally accepted responsibility for their actions and have been sentenced for their crimes."

Update 11:45 a.m.: Prosecutors explain the plea deal for the defendants in the Bryan Stow beating case

The prosecutor in the case, Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee called the sentences "frustrating."

"They did get off easy," Hanisee said. "Bryan Stow is serving a life sentence in a wheel chair and diapers. He's permanently brain damaged. He's not getting better, ever."

She said the evidence they had and the corresponding laws didn't allow prosecutors to ask for much more of a sentence than the two received.

Marvin Norwood, who Hanisee called "the lesser of two evils," received a four-year sentence. Louie Sanchez, who faced a maximum of 11 years in prison, got eight years.

"We got nearly the full sentence without having to go through trial," said Gary Hearnsberger, the head deputy district attorney for major crimes. "Anyone who's ever seen a trial, you've got twelve people on a jury. You never know if they're all going to agree and so forth. So we got a conviction."

The attorneys said Stow's family vetted the decision to accept pleas and agreed with it. Hanisee said she hopes the case will result in some good for Stow and his family.

"If anything good has come out of this case, it's brought public attention to the problem of fan violence at our stadiums and hopefully people are becoming more aware of it and the stadiums are becoming more aggressive in the way they handle it," Hanisee said. 

Sanchez will likely serve six and a half years in prison. A combination of his time in custody and  credits means that he has already served nearly three years of that sentence.

Norwood is expected to be released from state custody imminently, Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, said. Mrozek believes federal authorities will be picking him up Friday morning to face federal weapons charges.

Mrozek said according to the criminal complaint  filed in federal court, Norwood and Sanchez have prior felony convictions from 2006. Norwood was convicted of inflicting injury on a spouse or girlfriend, and Sanchez was convicted of evading an officer and for spousal abuse.

Update 10:51 a.m.: Defendants sentenced to 4 and 8 years in prison for their roles in the attack beating on Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium

Before the sentence was read Thursday, Brian Stow's father, David Stow, placed a Giants hat on the podium before addressing the court.

“The action you committed on my son was so mean and vicious that it’s left Bryan unable to care for himself. He has a life of pain, therapy daily. He will strive and persevere,” Stow told the defendants.

Video: Family members of Stow address the defendants

The father went on to say: “We despise you. The time you serve is insignificant compared to what Bryan must endure.”

L.A. County Superior Court Judge George Lomeli chastised Sanchez for smiling during the proceeding.

“You are the biggest nightmare for people who attend sporting events and public events. My son and I have season tickets. My biggest fear is that we run into people like you,” Lomeli said. “Not only did you blindside Mr. Stow, once he was on the ground, it was obvious he was incapacitated, but you continued to kick him in the head. You’re complete cowards. You don’t even engage in a fair fight.”

Norwood and Sanchez also face federal weapons charges. They are accused of having a cache of weapons in San Bernardino County, including some assault weapons, according to court records. They are expected to be prosecuted on the federal charges when they are released from state prison. Read the full complaint below.

If convicted, the men face federal prison terms of up to 10 years each, Mrozek said.

9:00 a.m.: 2 expected to plead guilty in beating of Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium

Two men charged with the brutal beating of a paramedic at Dodger Stadium are expected to plead guilty Thursday morning to their roles in the assault, according to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge. Louie Sanchez, 31, and Marvin Norwood, 32, are also expected to be sentenced this morning.

Stow, a paramedic from Santa Cruz, flew to Los Angeles with friends to attend the Opening Day showdown between the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants on March 31, 2011. What happened in the Dodger Stadium parking lot after the game left Stow with permanent brain damage.

Details of the beating emerged in a preliminary hearing for Sanchez and Norwood in June 2012. According to testimony, Sanchez was the primary aggressor, drunkenly following Stow and his friends across the parking lot and blindsiding Stow with a punch to the head.

Stow's friend Corey Maciel said he, Stow, and two other friends were walking through the parking lot after the game, wearing Giants gear, when they were heckled by Dodger fans.

Maciel said Stow, not speaking to anyone in particular, said about the hecklers: "I hope they code."

Code is a paramedic term for cardiac arrest. According to Maciel, a man between 5-feet 9-inches to 5-feet 11-inches tall with a goatee pushed Stow and said: "What the [expletive] did you say, homie?"

Prosecutors say that man was Sanchez.

The group kept walking, but Sanchez later appeared behind them. Maciel testified that Sanchez ran up to hit Stow with a hay-maker style punch, using the full force of his weight. The strike left Stow instantly unconscious and he hit the pavement, head first.

Other eyewitnesses testified Norwood kicked Stow as he lay on the ground.

During the same hearing, Dorene Sanchez, Louie’s brother and Norwood’s fiancé, provided a narrative of the day leading up to the fight.

Sanchez testified her brother was “rude, loud” to nearby Giants fans during the game, yelling obscenities, throwing peanuts and sunflower seeds, and at one point dousing a nearby female Giants fan with soda.

After the game, in the parking lot, Dorene Sanchez testified her brother had words with some Giants fans and then took off after them. Norwood, she said, chased after him.

She said when they returned four or five minutes later, they got in the car and Norwood told her: “Babe, just drive, drive, drive.”

According to a website posted by the Stow family, the former paramedic continues working to recover from his injuries at home with the help of multiple caretakers.

On February 14, the family posted that Stow’s head had been shaved and he saw the damage to his head.

“Seeing him stare at himself in the mirror was heartbreaking,” according to the site. “Watching him touch the shunt that protrudes on the right side of his skull, the slightly sunken in left side and all the deep scars was heartbreaking.”

The family has sued former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and three other entities affiliated with the team.

The lawsuit accuses them of providing lax security at the stadium and of negligence. They have denied the allegations. That case is scheduled for trial on May 27 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Federal Complaint Filed Against Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Bryan Stow's name. KPCC regrets the error.