Two men charged in the beating of SF Giants fan Bryan Stow pleaded guilty Thursday and accepted plea deals. Stephanie Chuang reports.
Two men charged in the beating of a San Francisco Giants fan pleaded guilty Thursday and accepted plea deals in the March 2011 opening day attack at Dodger Stadium before family members delivered emotional statements about how the attack changed their lives.
Louie Sanchez, 31, pleaded guilty to a felony count of mayhem and was sentenced to eight years in prison for the attack on Bay Area paramedic and father of two Bryan Stow. Marvin Norwood, 32, pleaded guilty to assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury and was sentenced to four years behind bars, but prosecutors said he will "walk out of here immediately" because of time served.
As part of the plea agreement, all other charges against the men were dropped. Both men had originally been charged with mayhem, assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury.
"The years that you spend in prison is what you cretins deserve," said David Stow.
Stow, 45, suffered serious injuries, including brain damage, in the parking lot assault and receives medical care at home. The family has posted updates on Stow's condition on Support4BryanStow, including a Feb. 14 post in which they said, "We recently shaved Bryan’s head and it was shocking to see the damage to his skull. Seeing him stare at himself in the mirror was heartbreaking. 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."
Thursday's hearing in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom included victim-impact statements from Stow's family. Stow's father called the sentence "insignificant compared to what Bryan must endure."
"I envy those people who can forgive others who commit crimes against their loved ones," said Stow sister Bonnie Stow. "I'm not one of those people."
The judge also addressed Sanchez --- who appeared to smile as the judge spoke -- and Norwood, seated in blue jumpsuits at a table in front of the bench.
"Rarely, do I comment, but this is the kind of case that demands it," said Judge George Lomeli. "Even now, with your smirks, you show no remorse.
"Not only did you blindside Mr. Stow, you continued to hit him on the head and kick him in the head. You're complete cowards."
The reported plea agreement is the latest twist in a case that led to criticism of stadium parking lot security measures and then-Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. More than seven months after the attack and after a series of decisions by Major League Baseball that went against him, McCourt was forced to sell the team to Lakers great Magic Johnson and his Guggenheim Baseball Management partners.
The investigation included a re-examining of clues after the arrest of a parolee who was later released. The Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery-Homicide Division was eventually brought in after the exoneration of Giovanni Ramirez, once called the "prime suspect" in Stow's beating.
The investigation then turned to Norwood and Sanchez. Witnesses testified during the preliminary phase that Sanchez was intoxicated and looking for a fight with Stow, seated nearby, and at least one other fan during the rivalry game. After the game, Stow and his friends encountered Sanchez and Norwood twice in the Dodger Stadium parking lot, according to court documents.
In an Opposition to Bail Reduction filed in August 2011, prosecutors outlined their version of events on the night of the attack. Sanchez attacked Stow from behind and Norwood joined in the attack, authorities said.
The attack included what one Stow friend described as "full wind-up" kicks to Stow's head after he was knocked to the ground.
Norwood was characterized as the "lesser of two evils" as prosecutors explained why he did not receive the same sentence as Sanchez, considered the primary aggressor.
The witnesses could not positively identify either defendant as an attacker, something defense attorneys said weakened the case against Sanchez and Norwood. But identification is not an issue because both defendants made statements that connect them to the beating, according to prosecutors.
The Stow family is expected to move forward with a civil lawsuit, scheduled for trial in May, against the Dodgers and McCourt over security measures. The family and supporters called for civility among fans after the attack, a cause joined by the Dodgers and Giants organizations.
The judge also brought up fan safety concerns during the sentencing hearing.
"You are the biggest nightmare for individuals that attend public events, such as sporting events or concerts," Lomeli he said.
In a statement, the Dodgers said the team is “pleased that the culpable parties have finally accepted responsibility for their actions.”
Citing the pending civil case, the team declined further comment.
The last time Stow was seen in public was when he and his family were invited to the last game of the Giants’ season back in September. Fans gave him a standing ovation when they saw him on the Jumbotron.
NBC Bay Area reached out to the Giants for comment, but the team declined to comment.