Two admit guilt in Bryan Stow attack
LOS ANGELES -- One of the worst tragedies played out at Dodger Stadium in recent years was recalled in a courtroom just miles away as two men pleaded guilty Thursday to a 2011 assault that left San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow brain damaged and disabled.
The two were immediately sentenced by an angry judge who called them cowards and the sort of people sports fans fear when they go to games.
"You are the biggest nightmare for people who attend public events," Superior Court Judge George Lomeli said as he faced Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood across a courtroom crowded with media and members of Stow's family, who wept and denounced the two men.
He noted that Sanchez was smirking during his remarks.
"This is not funny," he snapped at Sanchez, who said he knew that.
Sanchez, 31, acknowledging he kicked and punched Stow, pleaded guilty to one count of mayhem that disabled and disfigured the victim. He was sentenced to eight years in prison with credit for 1,086 days.
The complaint specified that he cut and disabled Stow's tongue, put out an eye and slit his nose, ear and lip in addition to other injuries that left him brain damaged.
Norwood pleaded guilty to one count of assault likely to produce great bodily injury and was sentenced to four years. His credit for time already in custody appeared to account for at least the majority of that term. Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee said Norwood could be released immediately.
But federal authorities said it would not be so fast. They have charged both men with weapons possession charges that could send them to prison for an additional 10 years.
The men were sentenced after Stow's family addressed the court. His sisters wept.
David Stow, the victim's father, placed a Giants cap on a podium.
"The years you spend in prison is what you cretins deserve," he said as Sanchez smirked at him.
Stow, a 45-year-old paramedic from Santa Cruz who attended the 2011 opener in Los Angeles between the Dodgers and Giants, was beaten nearly to death in a parking lot afterward. His family says he is permanently disabled and needs constant physical therapy.
Bonnie Stow described her brother's anguished life.
"We shower him, we dress him, we fix his meals," she said. "We make sure he gets his 13 medications throughout the day. He takes two different anti-seizure medications to prevent the seizures he endured for months after you brutally and cowardly attacked him."
Lomeli told the men: "You not only ruined the life of Mr. Stow [but] his children, his family, his friends."
He said the two seemed to care only about when they will be getting out of jail.
"One day you will be released," he said, "and Mr. Stow will forever be trapped in the condition you left him in."
The judge said he often takes his son to football games and "my biggest fear is that we might run into people like you, who have no civility."
He concluded, "It's only a game at the end of the day, and you lost perspective."
The attack prompted public outrage and led to increased security at Dodgers games. A civil suit by Stow is pending against the organization and former owner Frank McCourt.
"We are pleased that the culpable parties have finally accepted responsibility for their actions and have been sentenced for their crimes," the Dodgers said in a statement.
Outside court, Hanisee said prosecutors had obtained sentences close to the maximum possible if the men had been convicted at trial. She said the evidence did not justify a charge of attempted murder, although it was considered.
In response to one of the family member's comments, she said, "They did get off easy. Bryan Stow is serving a life sentence in a wheelchair and diapers. He is never going to get better."
If there is any positive outcome, Hanisee said, it's that attention has been drawn to the problem of fan violence at sports events.
Sanchez and Norwood were arrested after a lengthy manhunt that briefly involved the arrest of an innocent man. The two acknowledged their involvement during a series of secretly recorded jailhouse conversations.
Norwood was recorded telling his mother by phone that he was involved and saying, "I will certainly go down for it."
The words the two men spoke in a jail lockup, unaware they were being recorded, were played at a preliminary hearing as they were ordered to stand trial on charges of mayhem and assault and battery.
Sanchez acknowledged he attacked a Giants fan, and Norwood said he had no regrets about backing him up.
Witnesses testified about the parking lot confrontation, saying Stow was jumped from behind and his head crashed to the pavement. While he was on the ground, Sanchez kicked him in the head three times, they said.
Last spring, Stow returned home after two years in hospitals and rehabilitation centers.
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press