Teen gets probation in racially charged Halloween night beating in Calif.

Friday, February 2nd 2007, 6:29 pm
By: News On 6

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ One of nine black teenagers convicted in the racially charged beating of three white women on Halloween was sentenced to probation Friday.

Punishment could have ranged up to confinement in a California Youth Authority lockup until age 25 for the 18-year-old, who was 17 at the time the crime took place. He was ordered to serve 250 hours of community service and to go nowhere but home, school or church during 60 days of house arrest.

The sentence was handed down by Juvenile Court Judge Gibson Lee, who last week convicted nine teens _ eight female and one male _ of felony assault, with a hate-crime enhancement against all but one.

Three girls were to sentenced later Friday. The other five defendants face sentencing next week. Names of the defendants were withheld because they are juveniles or were juveniles at the time and were tried as juveniles.

The defendant pleaded with the judge, saying he was innocent and tried to help the victims, including taking a skateboard away from an assailant who was using it as a weapon.

``What will my life be like? I'm 18 and convicted of a hate crime,'' he said.

The victims were in an affluent area of Long Beach that draws crowds with fancy Halloween displays when a crowd of black youths yelled racial insults and one shouted ``I hate whites,'' according to prosecutors.

One victim testified the trio was pelted with small pumpkins and lemons. A witness testified two of the women were beaten with skateboards.

Prosecutors said the beating only ended when a black motorist stopped, pulled the assailants away and shielded the women with his body.

``I'm not sure if all the emotional scars will ever completely vanish,'' 21-year-old Loren Hyman, one of the victims, said earlier in a victim impact statement. ``I feel like the beating I endured on Halloween night is still not over.''

Two 15-year-old boys face trial later on charges of felony assault with the hate-crime enhancement.

Long Beach, 22 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, is a major U.S. cargo port with a racially diverse population of 475,000 and neighborhoods ranging from high-end shoreline condos to low-income urban areas.