Crime, Fire + Courts

Testimony details alleged hate-crime attack

By From page A1 | May 12, 2013

WOODLAND — “I thought he was dead.”
That was the reaction Melanie Bravo had when she walked out of her I Street home on the morning of March 10 and saw her cousin, Lawrence “Mikey” Partida, bloodied and beaten on her front lawn.
“He was covered in blood all over his face. I couldn’t even see where his nose was,” Bravo said during a preliminary hearing Friday for Clayton Daniel Garzon, the 20-year-old Davis resident accused of attacking Partida in part because of his sexual orientation.
After the hearing — which concludes May 20 — Yolo Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg will rule whether there is sufficient evidence for Garzon to stand trial on felony battery, assault and criminal threats charges, all of which carry enhancements alleging the beating was a hate crime.
Garzon, who remains free on $520,000 bail, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He’s due to appear in a Solano County courtroom later this week for a preliminary hearing on assault charges stemming from a September 2012 stabbing at a Dixon house party.
Dressed in a dark suit, Garzon sat quietly next to his attorney, Linda Parisi, during the two-hour hearing, taking down notes from time to time. His family watched the testimony from the second row of the courtroom audience.
Two rows behind them sat Partida, who came to court with his own group of supporters. He later said it was important for him to be there.
“It was important because my family was here,” Partida said, referring to his two cousins who took the witness stand Friday. “They’re supporting me, so I want to support them because it’s scary to talk about a night you don’t want to talk about.”
The alleged assault occurred on the same night as friends and family had gathered for a party at Bravo’s home to celebrate Partida’s 32nd birthday.
Another witness,  Partida’s cousin Vanessa Turner, testified she argued with her boyfriend during the get-together, and that Garzon — whose family lives across the street from Bravo — briefly stopped by the party to offer Turner consolation.
“He had an arm around my shoulders,” Turner recalled under questioning by Yolo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven. She said he told her, “It’s going to be OK, don’t worry about it.”
Turner said she later got into another argument with Bravo, after which Partida suggested they leave the house. As they walked north toward Fourth Street shortly before 4 a.m., Garzon approached them from his family’s property.
“He was calling my name and asking me to stop,” Turner testified. She said Partida “asked him to leave us alone,” after which Garzon “became very angry.”
Garzon cursed at Partida, using anti-gay epithets and threatening to “kick your ass,” according to Turner. They continued walking until Partida realized he had left his keys at Bravo’s home.
Turner said Partida instructed her to stay on the street corner, saying it would be “safer and quicker” if he went back to I Street alone. Moments later, Turner said, she heard sirens as several police cars passed her by.
The next time Turner saw Partida, he was in the intensive-care unit at the UC Davis Medical Center, where he was treated for injuries including a fractured skull and bleeding to his brain.
Bravo, who took the witness stand after Turner, said she was getting ready for bed when she heard a “commotion” from outside.
Her boyfriend, Shannon Cooper, “heard a pounding on the door,” Bravo testified. “I heard, ‘Beat that faggot up’ …. it was Clayton’s voice.”
Bravo said she walked outside to find her injured cousin on one side of the yard, while Cooper held down Garzon on the other.
She recalled bringing out a pillow for Partida, a picture of which — its purple pillowcase bearing a large red stain — was displayed on a courtroom screen.
But Partida wasn’t the only one wounded during the incident, defense attorney Parisi noted in her cross-examinations, displaying a photo of her client with multiple abrasions to his nose and forehead and a swollen right eye.
Bravo offered a possible explanation for those injuries, saying she “heard a punching sound” around the same time Cooper went out the front door.
Under Parisi’s questioning, Bravo acknowledged she withheld her boyfriend’s role in the incident during her first interview with police.
“I didn’t know if he was going to get in trouble for that,” Bravo said.
Bravo also recalled hearing Garzon say, “Please don’t call the police,” as Cooper held him down.
“Didn’t he also say, ‘He jumped me,’ ” Parisi asked.
“I don’t remember hearing that,” Bravo replied.
— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter @laurenkeene

Lauren Keene

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