FRESNO, Calif. – A prosecutor has refiled charges of aggravated mayhem against two men accused of tattooing a gang sign on a 7-year-old boy, raising the possibility again that they could face life in prison if convicted.
The Fresno County district attorney's filing Friday came two weeks after a judge ruled that Enrique Gonzalez and Travis Gorman should face the lesser charge of cruel and inhumane treatment of a child, rather than aggravated mayhem, a charge usually associated with disfiguring beatings, shootings and stabbings.
Prosecutors say Gonzalez, 27, held his son down against his will while Gorman, 21, inked a quarter-sized gang insignia on the boy's hip.
Both men are members of the Fresno Bulldogs, a notorious street gang that has been the focus of intense police action for three years. The Bulldogs take their name from the mascot and moniker of California State University, Fresno, and wear the school's athletic apparel.
The family contends the boy asked for the tattoo.
Attorneys for Gonzalez and Gorman say the prosecutor is overreaching. In making her decision earlier this month, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Hillary Chittick questioned whether a small tattoo is a permanent and painful disfigurement worthy of a potential life sentence.
"The DA's going to ignore the courts and proceed to a public lynching," said attorney Manuel Nieto, who is representing Gorman.
District Attorney Elizabeth Egan declined to comment on the case. She said her office files charges "that are supported by evidence introduced at the preliminary hearing."
Both men pleaded not guilty to the cruel and inhumane treatment charge Friday and a judge set a Dec. 10 court hearing. With gang enhancements, they face nearly eight years in prison if convicted.
The prosecutor's motion requires attorneys for the men to show why Chittick was right to dismiss the charge of aggravated mayhem. No new evidence will be introduced.