Two men were ordered on Friday to stand trial on assault and battery charges stemming from the beating of a San Francisco Giants fan who suffered brain damaged outside of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles last year.
The attack on Bryan Stow, a paramedic and father of two who drove from northern California to see the Giants play the Dodgers for the March 31, 2011, season opener, shocked baseball fans in both cities, raised concerns about stadium security and heightened friction between the league and the Dodgers owners.
Stow, now 43, apparently was singled out by his assailants in the parking lot at the end of the game because he was dressed in Giants apparel.
The two men ultimately accused of beating him were arrested nearly four months later after an earlier suspect was jailed and exonerated in an investigation that made national headlines.
Capping nearly six days of testimony from witnesses to the attack, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge found sufficient evidence for Louie Sanchez, 30, and Marvin Norwood, 31, to be tried on charges of mayhem, assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury.
Those three charges collectively are punishable by up to eight years in prison.
Both men, who have pleaded not guilty, remain jailed in lieu of $500,000 bond.
According to witness testimony, Stow was punched in the head, then fell backward and struck his head on the pavement before he was kicked in the head as he lay unconscious on the ground.
The beating left Stow in a coma for weeks with a skull fracture and severe brain damage.
A joint stipulation signed by prosecutors and defense lawyers said that since the beating, Stow is unable to walk or carry on a normal conversation and will require daily assistance for the rest of his life.
On Thursday, Dorene Sanchez, who is the fianc��e of Norwood and Sanchez' sister, testified that she saw the two men involved in a confrontation with Giants fans in the stadium parking lot before they jumped in her car and told her to drive away.
She testified under a grant of immunity, shielding her from prosecution for any possible involvement in her part in return for her truthful account of the altercation.
Outside of court, Sanchez's attorney, Gilbert Quinones, said he expected his client would be ordered to stand trial. But he added that "there are still a lot of questions" about who was involved in the beating.
The assault touched off a furor in Los Angeles over what critics said was a failure by the city and team officials to provide adequate security in and around Dodgers Stadium, allowing a thuggish atmosphere to prevail.
The incident also became a point of contention between Major League Baseball and the Dodgers' owner at the time, Frank McCourt, in their struggle for control over the storied ball club.
In addition to charges stemming from Stow's beating, Sanchez was ordered to face trial on misdemeanor battery counts in connection with separate altercations with two other Giants fans. If convicted on those counts, he could face an additional year in prison.
(Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Steve Gorman and Bill Trott)