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LOS ANGELES – An angry judge lashed out Thursday as he sentenced two men who pleaded guilty in the savage beating of a die-hard San Francisco Giants fan at Dodger Stadium, calling them cowards and a nightmare for people who go to games.
Judge George Lomeli also called out defendant Louis Sanchez for smirking during the hearing on the 2011 beating that left 45-year-old victim Bryan Stow brain damaged and permanently disabled, requiring 24-hour-a-day care.
"You are the biggest nightmare for people who attend public events," Lomeli said as he faced Sanchez and co-defendant Marvin Norwood across a courtroom crowded with media and members of Stow's family who wept and denounced the two men.
Lomeli told them, "You not only ruined the life of Mr. Stow (but) his children, his family, his friends."
Sanchez, 31, acknowledging he kicked and punched Stow, pleaded guilty to one count of mayhem and was sentenced to eight years in prison with credit for 1,086 days.
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. However, they still face federal weapons possession charges that could send them to federal prison for another 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 ball cap on a podium before he spoke.
"The years you spend in prison is what you cretins deserve," he said as Sanchez smirked at him.
The victim's sister, 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."
The beating shocked sports fans everywhere and drew attention to the problem of fan violence at sports events.
Both teams issued brief statements after the sentencing.
"We are pleased that the culpable parties have finally accepted responsibility for their actions and have been sentenced for their crimes," the Dodgers said. The team did not comment further, citing a pending civil suit over the attack.
Giants' spokeswoman Shana Daum said, "We continue to support Bryan and his family and hope that this development will help the Stows as they move forward from this tragic event."
Stow, a paramedic from Santa Cruz, was nearly beaten to death in a parking lot after attending the 2011 opening day game between the fierce rivals The attack prompted public outrage and led to increased security at Dodgers' games. A civil suit by Stow is pending against the Dodgers organization and former owner Frank McCourt.
Outside court, Hanisee said prosecutors had obtained sentences close to the maximum possible if the defendants had been convicted at a trial. She said there were insufficient facts to justify a more severe charge of attempted murder.
Sanchez and Norwood were arrested after a lengthy manhunt and 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 previous 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 rehabilitation centers and hospitals.