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August 10, 2011, Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood--the men now accused of beating Bryan Stow at a Dodger's baseball game last March--have pleaded not guilty to felony charges filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, with the preliminary hearing about six weeks off when it's slated for September 30.
It seems that, despite a lack of alternate evidence in the case against Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, Los Angeles still plans to prosecute -- even after the bulk of witnesses fail miserably in identifying the men from a line-up: "The case will move forward based on statements made in interviews and legal admissions overheard surreptitiously," according to Los Angeles County deputy district attorney Frank Santoro. Of 20 witnesses related to the Bryan Stow case, only one was able to either suspect currently in custody.
Dorene Sanchez, a third arrest in the Bryan Stow case, was released by police after reported grand jury testimony weeks ago. LAPD or prosecutors have now decided there's insufficient evidence to prosecute the woman whose names has been circulated throughout the media as the "getaway driver." Despite a trial yet, the obvious implication is one of guilt. If Dorene Sanchez was providing a 'getaway' she was obviously transporting criminals. It's part of the definition. People who haven't committed a crime don't need to make a 'getaway'. Yet that previous 'getaway driver' doesn't seem to have been providing too much of a getaway -- since prosecutors are just now announcing the decision not to file charges against the woman. It seems there's not enough evidence. Or perhaps none. That part's hard to know yet.
Maybe it has to do with some missing stuff. Important stuff. LAPD continues to avoid the subject of video footage or phone records -- or any serious evidence that definitively ties suspects Louie Sanchez or Marvin Norwood to the Stow crime and beating. The law enforcement agency's kind of been avoiding the topic of evidence. It hasn't been talking about forensics, video footage, or things like phone records. Maybe because there is none.
For those wondering how LAPD or Los Angeles prosecutors suddenly deemed Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood the 'right' men after having a wrong one in jail -- aka the exonerated Giovanni Ramirez -- the circumstances seem a little suspect unto themselves. The city of Los Angeles may assume LAPD must have the right guys this time around. It would certainly make the agency look stupid to grab the wrong people, twice. But Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood weren't arrested after someone specifically pinned the Bryan Stow crime on the pair. Nor were they arrested after damning video footage or phone communication proved the two suspects were the ones who had committed the crime.
The LAPD had basically pled with the public, for leads or proof related to who may have committed the crime against Stow. Reportedly the law enforcement agency asked baseball fans, whom had been at Dodgers stadium the day of the March 2011 beating, for any video or cell phone photographs or footage that could aid the department in apprehending someone responsible. After interviews with baseball fans, police detectives reportedly narrowed things down -- to compile a list of possible suspects based on ticket sales records.
That's right: the LAPD police ticket sales. Perhaps many are thankful they didn't happen to attend that particular Dodgers game. Suddenly, Marvin Norwood and Louie Sanchez emerged as prime suspects in the Bryan Stow case. They weren't the first.
First there was Giovanni Ramirez arrested for allegedly beating Bryan Stow on March 31, 2011. One of the more interesting aspects of the Bryan Stow beating case and subsequent arrests includes the suspect sketches -- and the fact those drawings don't exactly seem to match up to the two suspects in custody. Or to either suspect now arrested. In fact one of those sketches, now apparently attributed to the likeness of Louie Sanchez, looks a lot like Giovanni Ramirez.
LAPD had previously been vocal about insistence that a Mr Giovanni Ramirez was the man responsible for the Bryan Stow beating that left the 42-year-old paramedic in a coma. Numerous reports and video statements, including absolute insistence by the police chief, said Ramirez was the guilty party for harm inflicted on Bryan Stow in the Dodgers stadium parking lot in March 2011. To see how adamate the LAPD and Police Chief Beck were in the agency's claim to a correct arrest and insistence Giovanni Ramirez beat Bryan Stow, view May video footage.
Interestingly, Ramirez was acquitted of the Bryan Stow crime -- on exactly the same day that LAPD or prosecutors arrested Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, newly insisting that the two suspects were the men responsible for beating Stow. It all raises serious question as to the likelihood of LAPD being correct in the new allegations -- or whether the police force is in dire need of replacing its previous suspect and lack of evidence.
For those whom believe Giovanni Ramirez -- after incorrectly being held behind bars over the Stow case -- simply walked to freedom after being acquitted of the crime, think again. An embarrassed police force is a serious thing. Ramirez may have escaped being wrongly prosecuted for the Bryan Stow beating, but the former suspect didn't escape his next fate. When police or detectives grabbed Giovanni Ramirez from his home, alleging his involvement in the Bryan Stow beating and therefore searching the residence, a gun was found at the residence and taken into custody. That gun, found only because police were performing a search over the Stow case, has been used against Ramirez as a probation violation. The gun wasn't found on Ramirez himself -- it was found at the residence that had more than one person residing in the home. LAPD hasn't been discussing the fact that not only did the law enforcement agency have the wrong man -- after insisting otherwise -- but that the wrong man will now be spending some time, like up to 10 months, behind bars over the discovered gun.
Yes, gun possession is a parole violation. No, the LAPD wouldn't have been coming across any gun -- a weapon which, by the way, which has never been proven as specifically tied to Ramirez whom was sharing a home when officers came across the weapon -- had officers not garnered access to Ramirez's home because of the Stow beating. The issue of Giovanni Ramirez quietly went away after the LAPD snapped up its new suspects. Well, LAPD dropped it anyway. Kind of. But Ramirez is still sort of paying for that embarrassment despite the fact he didn't arrest himself.
Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood magically replaced Giovanni Ramirez in the Bryan Stow case. In fact, the switch happened on the same day in late July 2011. While Ramirez was exonerated, Sanchez and Norwood were arrested and deemed the new criminals on July 22. There were two similarities: Giovanni Ramirez has a prominent neck tattoo, as does Louie Sanchez. And all three men now accused of the crime -- at one point or another -- happen to have previous criminal records. Of course a record tends to make things look a bit worse in the public eye, even if those records are unrelated to the crime for which now someone stands accused.
Ramirez was finally exonerated, which could make similarity number three.
Like much of a stadium can be accused, Los Angeles prosecutors claim Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood were acting obnoxiously at the baseball stadium on the day of the Bryan Stow beating. And both Sanchez and Norwood did attend the Dodgers' opening baseball game in March. Things seem to get a bit hazy after that. Months after the beating, it seems the memory of someone suddenly got clearer. Or not. That's a bit hazy too.
LAPD has charged suspect Louie Sanchez with a total of three assaults related to that night in March. That certainly sounds like evidence. If Sanchez assaulted other people, then it seems far more likely he was on a violent path -- and assaulted Bryan Stow. Only that part seems a bit hazy too. Supposedly, according to police, Louie Sanchez assaulted a woman at Dodgers stadium by throwing a soda on her. And supposedly Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood went after a group of young Giants fans in the Dodgers stadium parking lot, according to police. Sanchez is accused by LAPD or Los Angeles prosecutors of taking a swing at one of the Giants fans. LAPD police detectives claim Louie Sanchez may have even hit other fans in the same group -- but that's where things get interesting: If police who weren't there claim it happened, it seems others aren't really up for testifying to that 'fact' either. Despite LAPD's pleas, no one else has come forward to state Louie Sanchez was involved in assaulting them.
Police claim Louie Sanchez attacked one Matthew Lee in the Dodgers parking lot, when the friend of Bryan Stow's was supposedly with him that fateful day. But no one may ever know the truth, or lack of truth, behind that allegation. Matthew Lee, prosecutors claim, was physically attacked or hit by Louie Sanchez before Sanchez is accused of assaulting Stow. There's one key problem for prosecutors: Matthew Lee, a former key witness in the Stow case, is now dead after an allergic reaction to peanuts.
It's interesting to note the newer, multiple assault charges against Louie Sanchez seem to back the idea the agency wants Sanchez, badly, for the Stow crime. The soda 'assault' and other charges of assault weren't filed back in March when the Stow beating originally happened. Nor were those assault charges against Sanchez filed while LAPD claimed Giovanni Ramirez was its man cops, insisting Ramirez had beaten Bryan Stow. It wasn't until police switched out that insistence -- to claim Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, not Giovanni Ramirez -- had instead beaten Stow that Louie Sanchez was suddenly facing newly-filed multiple assault charges.
Contrary to the claims made by LAPD or prosecutors that Louie Sanchez and Mavin Norwood are definitively guilty, an LAPD line-up reveals that only one of 20 witnesses from the Bryan Stow beating could identify either suspect currently in custody and charged with a felony crime: One witness, from the night Bryan Stowe was beaten, supposedly identified or picked Louie Sanchez from a police line-up. None of the 20 witnesses involved in that line-up successfully identified Marvin Norwood.
Unfortunately for Louie Sanchez, his physical resemblance is not far-removed from a lot of the male population in Los Angeles county or the state. In other words, he looks a lot like a lot of other men with short hair and a goatee. With only one supposed identification from 20 people choosing from a line-up, the results don't seem to prove that police line-up incredibly effective for the prosecution's case. But equally interesting are the LAPD police sketches -- and what seems to be a hugely conflicting lack of resemblance to the suspects LAPD or prosecutors claim are the men responsible for the Stow crime.
In late June 2011, video footage popped up from an unknown source -- cellphone video taken by a fan attending the ballgame. It seems someone had a feeling a potential problem was on the horizon: A fan began recording a conversation or interaction between who appears to be Bryan Stow and another fan at the Dodgers stadium -- a large man wearing a Dodgers jersey. The video is brief and includes the Dodgers fan approaching Stow from another row or section, speaking to him or at him, then returning to his seat. That footage sent or discovered by TMZ in June certainly doesn't show a man resembling Givoanni Ramirez and the cellphone video shot by a fan doesn't seem to show Marvin Norwood or Louie Sanchez either.
Similarly to a photo of Bryan Stow at the game on March 31, which showed separate groups of people seated both above and below his seat who were flipping him off in the picture, the cellphone video is just one more indicator that multiple people apparently interacted with Bryan Stow that day -- and were not happy with either the fan or his presence. With Dodgers fans flipping off the Stow group on two sides, from two rows, there's proof that giving a camera the finger does not equal beating someone. And now, with the cellphone video surfacing in June, there's yet a new man who remains unidentified -- seeming to offer yet more proof that multiple people had less-than-happy interactions with Stow at the game.
Yet more video or photo evidence of that day also shows that, despite being unhappy with Stow, all of those separate groups of people didn't beat the man. Police seem to be citing supposed 'obnoxious' behavior by Sanchez or Norwood as evidence they had something to do with the crime. But photos and video alone now show at least 3 people acting 'obnoxiously' -- and none of those people seem to include the suspects in question.
So who is the man who confronts Bryan Stow on the cellphone video released in June by TMZ? After LAPD's announcement of plans to prosecute based on 'statements', the law enforcement agency doesn't seem to believe that Dodgers fan shown on cellphone footage is Louie Sanchez or Marvin Norwood. And the video itself doesn't seem to indicate that either. In other fan footage taken at the March 31 baseball game, there are photos or video that show both men to be at the game. But neither Sanchez or Norwood seems to be wearing a blue jersey. Marvin Norwood is clearly shown in a white Dodgers jersey, not blue. Evidence of a capless Louie Sanchez shows the man to be wearing black sunglasses on his face and no hat -- while the unidentified man shown on video in a brief confrontation with Bryan Stow wears not just a blue jersey but also a baseball cap with white sunglasses resting on the hat.
Body language between the two men -- Bryan Stow and an unidentified male in a blue Dodgers jersey -- seems to indicate a bad interaction at least, or posture that indicates the exchange could have even included a possible threat. It may be interesting to know who that man is, appearing on a fan's video. It seems more than interesting that -- amid all the coverage about the case -- the police department hasn't addressed the question.
Of course police sketches can't be perfect. Drawn from the memory, or by aid, of witnesses, things aren't always ideal in creating a composite. But the police sketches in the Bryan Stowe case don't even appear to be close. The original police sketches for suspects related to the Bryan Stow beating don't match photographs of the two men taken into custody, Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood. One does look an awful lot like Giovanni Ramirez -- the same sketch now apparently being used to reference suspect Louie Sanchez. It's interesting, because Ramirez is the wrong guy, and because Sanchez doesn't look anything like Ramirez. Ramirez and Sanchez have one thing in common: A prominent neck tattoo. The composite being used to identify the two suspects has something in common: The complete absence of a neck tattoo.
It surely hasn't escaped police attention, particularly since the tattoo factor has been such a huge part of the agency's insistence Ramirez was its man. Reportedly, the police department was more assured Ramirez was its guy when he was found to allegedly be trying to remove the tattoo. Tattoos are an identifying feature commonly used by police agenices in positively identifying suspects or making a match. And Louie Sanchez has got one -- a prominent, large tattoo, highly visible even with clothing -- across the left side of his neck. That tattoo isn't easily missed. It's even visible from the front. And yet whomever helped police with a composite sketches doesn't seem to have remembered a tattoo -- or that's the way the sketch appears anyway.In fact, the way both sketches appear.
Then there's the police sketch supposedly related to Marvin Norwood, a man weighing about 250 pounds. The related police sketch, if it is truly related, reflects a man who appears to be more in the 175-lb range -- or less than 200, anyway. Strangely, not even race in the police sketch seems to match up to Marvin Norwood. Norwood is a white man. The police sketch seems to show a more slender Hispanic, or even black, man with closely-cropped hair and what seems to be a very large weight difference. Confusing? A bit.
Somehow in July 2011, the mayhem felony arrests and subsequent charges against suspects Sanchez and Norwood coincided with a media frenzy over the Bryan Stow injuries. Previously the Bryan Stow beating had been portrayed as bad. But the legal complaint's description, which topped every newscast, broadcast allegations that Sanchez and Norwood personally inflicted great bodily injury on Stow, "causing him [Bryan Stow] to become comatose due to brain injury and to suffer paralysis." It was a description that hadn't hit headlines when Giovanni Ramirez was in custody: The felony mayhem count alleged Sanchez and Norwood "did cut and disable the tongue, and put out an eye and slit [Bryan Stow's] nose, ear and lip." It was a brutal description the media leaped on immediately -- wording of a 'cut' or 'disabled' tongue and eye 'put out'. The wording, that seemed to be lacking proper explanation, was distributed by numerous media outlets with like LA Weekly's headline that read Norwood and Sanchez "Reportedly Cut Out Stow's Eye and Tongue, Then Bragged About It".
Eventually clarified by an attorney for the prosecution, the public went wild over words that helped conjure images of the worst brutality possible which seemed to better describe, in peoples' minds, the beating and death of Kelly Thomas beating in Fullerton. After the description made its rounds through the media, it was finally clarified as was legal wording -- that the suspect or suspects did not literally carve out an eye or tongue.
Now Los Angeles prosecutors in the case against Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood are reportedly basing their case against Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood on "incriminating statements." Police or prosecutors claim there's statements by both defendants and key witnesses. Dorene Sanchez had been previously dragged in by LAPD, eventually reportedly providing grand jury testimony. Prosecutors claim that testimony is part of the intended evidence or statements to be used against Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood. But whether that testimony really says anything to incriminate Sanchez or Norwood remains a mystery for now. As Louie Sanchez's defense attorney Gibert Quinones phrased it on August 10: “I don’t know what she [Dorene Sanchez] said [in grand jury testimony]. For all I know, she said her brother was in Tahiti. I don’t know."
The prosecution has also allegedly revealed to the public or media that Louie Sanchez supposedly told his son not to speak or talk to anyone. With 'rights' that surpass even those of an investigative reporter, and unlike pretty much anyone else in regular society, police or detectives are allowed to speak to children while investigating a case. In a court filing, prosecutors allege Louie Sanchez told his son not to talk to anyone about the March night at Dodgers stadium. Louie Sanchez's attorney acknowledges his belief that Sanchez's son, a 10-year-old at the time of the crime (now 11), has spoken to LAPD police. Reports circulated, shortly after, that law enforcement was using -- or potentially had plans to use -- the boy as a witness. But is it a crime if Sanchez told his son not to speak to anyone? No. It's not exactly surprising, or illegal, that Louie Sanchez, or any other member of a family would ask a child not to speak to anyone they don't personally know -- particularly when a family member is accused of a crime and forced to defend himself.
Police are legally allowed to lie to at least adults while performing an investigation. Would police lie to a child while performing an investigation. Maybe not. Society would hope not. But if statements from an adult can be misconstrued, or questions misunderstood, that probability seems easily multiplied in dealing with children. Demanding or artfully detracting statements from a child seems a questionable idea in terms of both ethics and validity. It would seem a child filled with fear, or impacted by stress, could provide some inaccurate statements -- or, at the least, statements that might be misconstrued. None of it seems fair to do to a child. Probably any parent could relate in not wanting their children involved in horrific things like criminal defense cases.
What evidence is LAPD or prosecutors using in the case against Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood? That kind of remainsn to be seen. Prosecuting attorneys now allege Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, have implicated themselves in the Stow beating through either statements made to police or through recorded conversations while suspects have been in police custody. The prosecution claims that "while in a jail cell awaiting a lineup, [Louie] Sanchez told his co-defendant Norwood not to say anything to anyone." It's an interesting tidbit to release to the public.
To the average person, a statement not to 'say anything' may imply guilt. Probably most whom hear it will make an assumption. But for anyone familiar with the legal system, the statement not only isn't unusual, it's exactly what any defense attorney would tell his or her client. The reason: for the exact reason exemplified by the simple statement not to say anything. Any statement can be used in court -- even out of context. If that's the worst statement LAPD or prosecutors have recorded or claim to have overheard, prosecution may be facing a big problem.
Louie Sanchez's lawyer, Gilbert Quinones, told an awaiting media outside of Los Angeles court that he isn't commenting about the Stow case until he's had a chance to review "25 binders" of evidence prosecutors have against his client, Louie Sanchez -- because, the attorney says, he's previously only viewed "about 20 pages." For anyone whom may have missed any potential sarcasm, a not-uncommon bluff among attorneys includes the frequent carting of large boxes or binders -- dragged through court halls. Those boxes or binders can hold true evidence, or nothing. In other words, supposed evidence can amount to zip. But in the eyes of those at a court, the visual impact can speak volumes.
When asked by the media for personal reaction to the lack of witnesses being able to identify either Quinones' own client, Louie Sanchez, or Marvin Norwood, the attorney told reporters: "That's a good piece of information to have." Perhaps he was already aware of that fact before the line-up.
No one other than prosecutors is aware of Dorene Sanchez's grand jury testimony contents -- which won't be made publicly available unless used in open court in either a preliminary hearing or a trial. Louie Sanchez's attorney, Quinones, had expressed obvious doubt that any Sanchez family member would make an incriminating statement against Louie Sanchez. Despite that logical reasoning, the media has continued to portray an image of Dorene Sanchez as already having incriminated Louie Sanchez, Marvin Norwood -- or both men.
Both Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood remain jailed -- each required to post bail of half a million dollars, $500,000 each in order to gain freedom from behind bars. It's not exactly the average amount any American would easily be able to cough up, regardless of circumstance. Unless each man was able to post bond in cash of a full $500,000, the men would automatically lose $50,000 immediately -- in a 10%-percent, non-returnable fee charged by a bail bondsman. Louie Sanchez's attorney had reportedly considered a motion, requesting bail be dropped to $100,000 for his client -- but that motion has reportedly withdrawn by the attorney August 10, 2011, with Quinones stating the motion's withdrawal "was for strategic reasons."
It's no mystery that LAPD had been under pressure to replace its previous suspect with one (or more). The case against Giovanni Ramirez, originally deemed the man whom had beaten Bryan Stow, was weakened beyond repair. On July 22, 2011, a press conference -- that included Mayor Villaraigosa and LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck in Los Angeles -- announced a suspect had been pulled by a SWAT team from an East Hollywood apartment building and that two others were being detained.or arrested. Those three persons involved two Sanchez family members and Marvin Norwood. Not surprisingly, the sister of Bryan Stow told the media she'd already been notified of that arrest by the LAPD -- even before the law enforcement agency had openly released the information to the public.
According to District Attorney Steve Cooley: "The Los Angeles Police Department never gave up on this case." If it sounds like an odd statement to anyone whom had been following the Bryan Stow case, it kind of is. As far as the public had been led to believe, the LAPD had already solved the Stow case back when it had arrested Giovanni Ramirez -- and swore he was the guy responsible for the crime. Police Chief Beck and Mayor Villaraigosa appear on video or news footage -- declaring Giovanni Ramirez had, without doubt, beaten Bryan Stow.
An anonymous member of the LAPD had stated that while the criminal investigation was ongoing, and though there was no forensic evidence, the suspects had supposedly made "incriminating" statements. It's a vague statement. And it seems a vague way to go about a trial. If there is any forensic evidence or other evidence of the beating, including video or phone records, the evidence certainly hasn't surfaced. But the suspects have essentially been tried in the media -- before their day in court -- based simply on their past. It's a fact that certainly helps serve at least one law enforcement agency.
If Marvin Norwood is convicted, he could face up to eight years in prison while Louie Sanchez is looking at nine years. The question is: Does LAPD have the right men, or is it simply looking to replace the previously wrong one. Neither LAPD or prosecutors seem to be showing evidence that the department truly knows who did. The department obviously doesn't want to embarrass itself twice, and obviously strives to avoid further embarrassment. But continuing to prosecute a crime based on "incriminating statements" is a littled odd, not exactly the norm.
The beating of Bryan Stow is a horrible crime by whomever administered it. Stow's dedicated career in helping people, as a paramedic, has been amplified throughout the media. In contrast, two men sit in jail who -- just like Giovanni Ramirez prior -- happen to have a previous criminal record. Louie Sanchez's father, Luis Sanchez, has expressed frustration over media coverage of the Bryan Stow case and suspects -- stating he'd prefer to speak out but is currently unable to because of attorney's directions.
Neighbors of Marvin Norwood and Louie Sanchez describe the men very differently than the portrait painted by LAPD or Los Angeles prosecutors. Those who live near the two say they're friendly, baseball-loving dads -- one neighbor using the description of "a really nice family, a really quiet family."
It happened once with Giovanni Ramirez. For those whom don't believe law enforcement can make an error, consider Ramirez. While lives can be destroyed in an instant, a law enforcement agency loses next to nothing: "If you don't have any proof, why did you put the picture of him [Giovanni Ramirez] in public?," Ramirez's mother asked at a news conference. "That's wrong. There's a big, big mistake that they [LAPD] made."
Yes, indeed -- it was a mistake. And there may be at least one to two others.