Two new suspects in the near-fatal beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow are facing mayhem and deadly weapon assault charges, Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck confirmed in a news conference Friday afternoon.
Beck, who had repeatedly expressed confidence that police had their man in 31-year-old Giovanni Ramirez, said he has now been exonerated in light of the new suspects – Louie Sanchez, 29, and Marvin Norwood, 30 – who live six doors away from each other in Rialto, near San Bernardino. Both men are being held in jail on $500,000 bail.
Dorene Sanchez, the wife or girlfriend of Louie Sanchez, also was arrested but then released with charges pending, Beck said. Witnesses at the beating scene said they saw a woman drive to suspects away from the Dodger Stadium parking lot, where Stow encountered his attackers following the first game of the season between the Giants and Dodgers on March 31. Since then, the 42-year-old Santa Cruz paramedic and father of two has been hospitalized with traumatic brain injuries.
Attorneys for Ramirez have argued for his innocence since he was arrested in May. They said he was with his young daughter the night of the beating and nowhere near Dodger Stadium, and that he had a full head of hair at the time, contrary to widely circulated suspect sketches. Attorneys also said in June that Ramirez passed a lie detector test. Police never formally charged Ramirez, but he is being held in a San Diego prison on an unrelated weapons violation of his parole for a previous conviction.
Beck, flanked at the news conference by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said he is proud of the thousands of hours detectives put toward the case, despite the new development. He said the admission of the mistake reflects well on the department’s character to “do the right thing” even when “it reflects badly on us.”
“It’s just as important we find the innocent as we find the guilty,” Beck said.
Asked why he is sure about evidence against the suspects this time around, Beck didn’t elaborate much, but said the formal charges are indicative of a good case.
“The filing by the DA speaks to that,” he said.
Both new suspects have a violent criminal past, including domestic abuse, but neighbors interviewed by the Los Angeles Times on Friday described them as “baseball-loving fathers.” Neighbors also said police asked them if either man’s home had ever been seen with Dodgers flags or other team paraphernalia.
The mayor said the exoneration and new charges are evidence that “the process has worked.”
Beck asked members of the media not to show photos of the suspects due to the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation.
When Ramirez was arrested, police held a news conference in front of Dodger Stadium to announce the development in the highly publicized case. The team and its embattled owner, Frank McCourt, are facing scrutiny from Major League Baseball, along with bankruptcy proceedings. Stow’s family is suing the team over the lax stadium security and dim lighting, which they call a result of bad financial priorities in the midst of McCourt’s well-documented messy divorce proceedings with his wife.
Meanwhile, in a good sign for Stow’s recovery Friday, doctors and nurses at San Francisco General Hospital told family members that he attempted to give a thumbs up and mouthed, “Stow,” when asked his last name.