Bryan Stow, a paramedic and father of two from Santa Cruz, California, was brutally beaten and nearly killed in a post-game attack at Dodger Stadium on March 31, 2011. Witnesses said the Opening Day attack against the Giants fan was totally unprovoked. Stow suffered a fractured skull and was in a coma for months. According to prosecutors, he has suffered serious brain damage, is unable to walk or hold a conversation and may require medical care for the rest of his life. Immediately following the attack, a Los Angeles Police Department manhunt led to the arrest of Giovanni Ramirez, who was never formally charged and was ultimately exonerated. In July 2011 the LAPD arrested Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood. They are charged with various felonies, including mayhem and assault.
Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood are charged with mayhem, assault with intent to cause great bodily injury and battery with intent to cause great bodily injury. Sanchez faces a maximum of nine years in prison, while Norwood is looking at eight years in prison.
Both men are also charged with weapons offenses in federal court, related to illegal possession of various firearms.
It was the first game of the 2011 season, and rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants faced off in Dodger Stadium. Some Dodger fans grew increasingly raucous as the game went on, and those in attendance witnessed drunken, profane fans spilling their beer on other patrons, throwing food and starting fights in the stands, while the stadium ushers looked on passively, not wanting to get involved in a potential confrontation.
In the parking lot after the game, tension remained high as the bad behavior continued. Stow was with a group of paramedic friends from Northern California, and they tried to lay low. According to witness testimony, two Dodgers fans, apparently drunk and possibly high on marijuana, became fixated on the group of Giants fans, attired in Giants gear.
The Giants fans tried to ignore the men, thinking they would be safe if they did not give in to a fight. Even without provocation, the Dodgers fan charged to the group and began throwing punches. Witnesses saw a man punch Bryan Stow, hard. Stow hit the ground, apparently unconscious. He lay there, unmoving, while his assailant kicked him in the head twice.
The assailants fled the scene quickly, and while onlookers called for medical help and tried to assist the wounded men, they drove off. No one at the scene got a good look at the men, and out of twenty witnesses, only one has been able to positively identify the men who are charged with mayhem and assault, Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office has based their charges on statements from Sanchez and Norwood that tend to prove guilt, such as a taped phone conversation between Norwood and his mother, in which he says, “I was involved. I was. To a certain extent I was,” and “I will very certainly go down for it.”
The DA also produced an audio recording of a conversation that the defendants shared while in jail. On the tape, Louie Sanchez apologizes to Norwood and tries to take responsibility, saying he “socked him, jumped him and started beating him.” Norwood replied, “That happens, bro. What kind of friend would I have been if I hadn’t jumped in and tried to help you?”
At the preliminary hearing, the investigating officer testified that Norwood did not think he was involved in the same altercation that injured Stow and that there had been many fights that night.
Doreen Sanchez, Norwood’s fiancé and Sanchez’s sister, testified that she saw the men pushing and shoving some Giants fans, but she did not know if they included Bryan Stow and his friends.
Prosecutors alleged that Sanchez told his son not to say anything to anyone about the events that followed the game that night.
The incident sparked public outcry in Los Angeles about the dangerous conditions at the storied ballpark and ultimately led to an increased security presence for Dodgers games. The attack was the most brutal setback in a long history of troubles for the team, which has been the subject of scrutiny and derision during the messy, acrimonious divorce proceedings between former owners Frank and Jamie McCourt.
Bryan Stow – A paramedic and father of two from the northern California beachside town Santa Cruz, the victim of a brutal attack that caused severe brain damage and will likely require lifelong medical treatment. His story has inspired the compassion of many, including San Francisco Giants icon Barry Bonds, who began a scholarship fund for Stow’s two children.
Louie Sanchez – A supervisor at an auto auction company and resident of Rialto, a suburb of Los Angeles.
Marvin Norwood – Also from Rialto, it was Norwood’s taped conversation with his mother, in which he implicated himself and Sanchez in the beating, that led to the duo’s arrest.
Gilbert Quinones – Sanchez’s attorney, a criminal defense lawyer from East Los Angeles.
Doreen Sanchez – The so-called “getaway driver,” who testified that she saw the defendants push and shove some Giants fans but that she didn’t know if those fans were Stow and his group. Sanchez is Louie Sanchez’s sister and Marvin Norwood’s fiancé. She testified under the promise of immunity from further prosecution.
Alan “Jeff” Bradford – A friend of Stow’s and fellow paramedic who attended the game with him. He testified that the attack was completely unprovoked, and that Stow and their group tried to ignore the instigators and walk away from the fight. He was also injured during the attack, although far less seriously than Stow.
Giovanni Ramirez – The suspect originally arrested for the attack, later exonerated but still in custody on an unrelated parole violation.
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Although there were many witnesses to the beatings that left Giants fan Bryan Stow in grave danger of losing his life, it was a dark night and almost no one got a good look at the attackers. Out of 20 witnesses, only one could positively identify Louie Sanchez in a police lineup, and no one was able to identify Marvin Norwood.
Identification will probably be the defense’s theme. Since no one got a good look at Stow’s assailants, the defense will argue that there is no evidence to corroborate Norwood’s statement that he and Sanchez were “involved” in the beating “to a certain extent.”
The defense will argue that there are all kinds of reasons people make false confessions. Suspects often fold in when faced with intense police interrogation, and say what they think they need to say to make the questioning end. In very high-profile cases such as this one, sometimes people come forward simply for their fifteen minutes of fame. Our coverage of Etan Patz: The Face on the Milk Carton explores that very issue.
However, the prosecution is sure the confession is enough for a guilty verdict. After all, witnesses may not have seen Norwood and Sanchez beat Stow, but many people testified that at the game itself, they were drunk, their behavior was disruptive and rude, and that they were looking for a fight.
Norwood and Sanchez’s own statements, made while in custody, practically wrap the case up with a neat bow for the prosecution. It is unusual that the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department chose to house the men in a shared cell. Normally, co-defendants are segregated once in custody. The fact that the men were, at one point, put together in jail suggests that law enforcement were using that as a tactic in their investigation, hoping that putting the men together would lead them to spill their secrets. It worked.
Just a reminder, readers, if you’re in jail, the cameras are rolling!