LOS ANGELES – The sound of bone against concrete was as sickening as it was loud, reverberating across a parking lot at Dodger Stadium and alerting fans streaming to their cars that something had gone horribly wrong on Opening Day.
In a Los Angeles courtroom Thursday, two witnesses to the brutal assault of Bryan Stow last year recalled the sound of his skull striking the ground as a particularly chilling moment in a terrifying episode.
“It was a really loud, almost echo-ish,” witness Joann Cerda recalled, adding the she was certain Stow was dead. The other, Megan Duffy, said she jumped into her car after hearing “a thud, like someone’s head smashing against pavement.”
The women and a third witness from the stadium parking took the stand on the second day of a preliminary hearing to determine if prosecutors have sufficient evidence to try Louie Sanchez, 30, and Marvin Norwood, 31, for the beating that left Stow with permanent brain damage and unable to walk or talk.
Their accounts demonstrated the strengths and potential weaknesses in the case against the men. All portrayed the two Dodger fans who attacked Stow as the aggressors, but none could positively identify Sanchez or Norwood as punching or kicking him.
Superior Court Judge George Lomeli previously heard about boorish and aggressive behavior by Sanchez and Norwood toward fans of the visiting San Francisco Giants inside the stadium. Thursday’s testimony picked up after the game, when Dodgers fan Anamaria Davila spotted two men “packing a bowl of weed” in a car parked near hers.
“They were drunk. I could smell the alcohol on their breath and they were high,” she said.
She said the men taunted passing Giants fans with obscenities and at one point ran after a group of teenagers dressed in Giants jerseys.
“They punched one or two of them,” Davila said. The youths, she said, “were shocked … and were like, ‘We don’t want any trouble.'”
The two men left the teenagers alone, but a short time later, four older Giants fans passed and the men shouted profanities at them, she testified. Davila said the Giants fans kept walking, but after the group passed, a woman who had accompanied the two men to the game pointed at the fans and yelled, “They are talking smack! They are talking smack!”
Davila said the two men immediately raced after the Giants group and out of her sight. When they returned a few minutes later, they were running and shouting to their female companion, she said.
“They were saying, ‘Drive! Drive! Drive! Get in the … car!” Davila recalled. She was unable to identify Norwood or Sanchez but picked out of a police lineup the car they drove.
The other women who testified saw portions of the assault. Cerda, who watched from a distance, said the Giants fans kept trying to walk away, but the two male Dodger fans “kept throwing hands in the air and making gestures like they wanted to fight.”
She said that Stow was standing still with his arms at his side when one of the men blindsided him with a punch to the side of the head. She said he seemed to lose consciousness before he even hit the ground. Duffy, who watched part of the incident from inside her SUV, said she saw the man who punched Stow kick him twice in the head while he lay sprawled on the ground.
“When Bryan was being kicked, was he defending himself at all?” asked Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee.
“No, he wasn’t moving,” Duffy said.
Duffy identified Norwood from a police lineup as being present at the scene. But she told police she could not identify the man who punched and kicked Stow because she had seen his face only in profile.
A detective testified that the distance between the area where the defendants’ car was parked and a pool of Stow’s blood was 368 feet. The measurement given by Los Angeles Police Department Detective Barry Telis, one of two lead investigators, suggested prosecutors plan to emphasize that Stow and his friends were chased down rather than participating in a fight.