Simi Youth Is Found Guilty of Hate Crime

Judge's ruling means assailant could face up to eight years in custody for attack on black teen.

Los Angeles Times/January 5, 2005
By Gregory W. Griggs

One of three Simi Valley teenagers charged in an attack on a 17-year-old black newspaper vendor was found guilty Tuesday of committing a hate crime.

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Alan Steele confirmed the petition submitted by prosecutors that charged the continuation high school student with two felony counts in connection with the Dec. 6 beating. The victim was attacked as he sold newspaper subscriptions at a shopping center.

The former Apollo High student, whose name was withheld because of his age, remains in custody in juvenile hall. He is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 19 for sentencing and could face up to eight years in custody.

"The evidence was pretty substantial, pretty detailed and damaging," said James Harmon, the deputy public defender who represented the teen. "My client did testify about his background and involvement as a skinhead follower."

Victim Jim King said his assailants shouted racial slurs during the altercation. Police said white power and skinhead paraphernalia was found inside the vehicle that two of the suspects used to flee.

The defendant denied his involvement in the incident during testimony Tuesday.

Before issuing his ruling, the judge said "the minor completely lacked credibility in everything he said & there was really no other reason for the attack except for the racial motivation," according to prosecutor Stacy Ratner.

Two other Simi Valley teens suspected in the attack and a 17-year-old suspect from Granada Hills are scheduled to appear in court for a pretrial hearing today.

Ratner said because more than one assailant was involved, each convicted teen could receive up to eight years in custody.

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