MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A case involving four men, caught on camera, fighting a gay couple will go to trial.
The fight happened on Miami Beach in 2018 as the couple was leaving a pride event. The victims claim this was a hate crime, but the defendants say they’re the ones who were attacked.
On Friday, defense attorneys argued the defendants were “standing their ground” and the case should be dropped.
A judge sided with the victims and said she will not be dismissing the case or the charges.
She also said she won’t be addressing whether or not this is a hate crime. That decision will be left to the jury.
“You had these four young adults jump in an irrationally exerting force,” says the judge.
Rene Chalarca and Dimitry Logunov say there were attacked and severely beaten.
Defense attorneys for the accused attackers say they were acting in self-defense after one of them was bumped.
“You will see the initial aggressor is Mr. Logunov who purposely bumps Mr. Lopez,” argues Defense Attorney, David Dunet.
But prosecutors say the video of the beachside brawl clearly shows a different story; and argues, what you see in the video should be classified as a hate crime.
“Even if the defendants were justified at the very beginning. What continues, what we watched, takes that out of self-defense,” argued the prosecution.
After hours of both sides arguing their case, a judge sided with the victims and ruled the case will not be dismissed. Instead, it will go on to trial where a jury will determine the fate of the four accused attackers.
“There is nothing in that video, and I’ve watched it over and over again, that showed me that any one of these defendants was in fear for their safety or their lives,” says the judge.
Attorneys we spoke with say, if these defendants are convicted of a hate crime battery, they could face a maximum penalty of 30 years behind bars because it was a hate crime. David Dunet, an attorney representing defendant, Juan Lopez, calling today a loss.
“She made her pronouncement, and we’ll wait to see what her written order is and then take it from there what the next step will be,” he said.
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The defendants walking out of the courtroom today visibly upset. None of them wanted to make a comment.