Two men pleaded guilty today to violently kicking and punching Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium in 2011, an assault that turned Stow’s family into round-the-clock caretakers for the brain-damaged former paramedic and father of two.
Marvin Norwood and Louie Sanchez’s final court appearance did not bring much consolation, the family said during the proceeding.
“I’d hoped to see one tiny bit of remorse in order to think you both are not that despicable,” said Stow’s sister, Erin Collins. Staring at Norwood and Sanchez, she added, “But I don’t.”
Judge George E. Lomeli lashed out at Sanchez for smirking and blasted the two for showing “no remorse whatsoever.”
He sentenced Norwood to four years for assault and Sanchez to eight years for mayhem, part of a plea deal where prosecutors dropped several other charges and sought less than maximum prison time.
Since Norwood and Sanchez have been in custody for two and a half years, they may serve only a portion of their prison sentences after time is cut for good behavior.
Norwood, who must serve at least half of his sentence, may walk free immediately, said Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee. Sanchez, required to serve at least 85% of his sentence, could be released after roughly five years.
Hanisee said the two got off easy.
“Bryan Stow is serving a life sentence in a wheelchair and diapers,” she told reporters.
His ex-wife, Jacqueline Kain, now cares for their children Tyler and Tabitha, both in grade school.
Stow’s family described his ailments to the judge and a courtroom packed with reporters in candid, blunt language.
Collins said the 45-year-old needs help with basic daily needs.
“Bryan can’t go to the bathroom for himself. He can’t shower by himself. He has to wear adult diapers,” she said, blinking back tears. “I hate even having to say that out loud, but it shows the severity of what you did.”
Norwood and Sanchez attacked Stow in the Dodgers Stadium parking lot after the opening day match between the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants on March 31, 2011.
After jeering at Giants fans during the game, Sanchez taunted Stow, who wore a Giants jersey, in the parking lot. His first block smacked Stow onto the asphalt. Soon Norwood joined in to help his friend punch and beat Stow into unconsciousness.
Investigators secretly recorded Norwood and Sanchez discussing the attack while in custody, and prosecutors presented the tape as a key piece of evidence.
“It’s all my fault,” Sanchez said in the tape.
“I’m gonna fry regardless, bro,” Norwood responded.
If Stow were ever to die of his injuries, Norwood and Sanchez could be tried for murder, Hanisee said. As it is, the attackers will be delivered into the hands of the federal government once released from prison to face charges for firearm possession. Each could serve up to ten years if found guilty.
The court will order Norwood and Sanchez to pay restitution to Stow, but Hanisee doesn’t foresee a large sum.
“You can’t get blood from a stone,” she said. Stow contends with millions of dollars of liens against him for medical care, according to Hanisee.
Stow has sued former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt for security negligence at the stadium.
Stow’s family, who live in San Francisco, were not the only people affected by the incident. The attack left baseball fans in Los Angeles and nationwide wondering how such a calamity could happen at a big-city ballpark where families come to relax and enjoy America’s pastime.
Judge Lomeli said the beating had altered the L.A. mindset about safety at public sporting events, calling Norwood and Sanchez “the biggest nightmare” for attendees.
Still, he ended his commentary on a hopeful tone.
“Ninety percent of people who attend these events are decent people,” he said.
Written for “Text” class at the Annenberg School of Journalism, spring 2014.