Fred Gladdis / Davis Enterprise

Clayton Garzon, seen in custody, faces hate crime charges.

Davis man faces trial in alleged hate crime

Published: Wednesday, May. 22, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Wednesday, May. 22, 2013 - 8:15 am

Clayton Garzon will face trial on assault and hate crime allegations connected to the March 10 beating of a gay Davis man, a Yolo Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday.

"We have evidence of a severe beating – not just a punch, but a significant beating," said Yolo Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg at the conclusion of Garzon's preliminary hearing.

Garzon, 20, of Davis faces three felony assault charges and hate-crime enhancements in the attack outside the I Street home in Davis where Lawrence "Mikey" Partida of Davis had just celebrated his 33rd birthday.

Rosenberg set a June 7 arraignment date.

Garzon, who also faces an assault allegation out of neighboring Solano County connected to a violent brawl outside a Dixon house party last September, is also accused of committing a crime while on bail.

Partida, a grocery clerk at Davis Food Co-op, was severely beaten in the front yard of the I Street home in the pre-dawn hours of March 10.

The attack left the slight, 125-pound man with a fractured skull, bleeding in his brain and a face covered in bruises. A piece of wood embedded behind his eye from his being impaled on a fence post required surgery to remove.

Stitches under Partida's right eye still show the surgeon's work.

Over nearly three days of testimony, Partida's cousins, friends and others testified to the bloody beating Partida took – an attack so violent they feared Partida had been killed. They also recalled the gay epithets Garzon allegedly hurled at Partida before and after the assault.

"Make no mistake. This was not a fight between two men. This was a brutal beating," Yolo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven said in his closing statement. "(Garzon's) masculinity was challenged not only by a man, but a gay man."

But Monday and Tuesday, Garzon attorney Linda Parisi tried to show that jealousy, not anti-gay bias, prompted the assault on Partida and attacked prosecution witnesses' assertions that Garzon assaulted Partida because he was easily identifiable as a gay man.

Parisi brought in a Brigham Young University professor to dispute prosecutors' claims, saying the slurs amounted to shabby slang rather than hate speech and that Garzon's upbringing in a liberal community lessened the likelihood that an attack was sexuality- related.

On Tuesday, Clayton Garzon's uncle, Mauricio Garzon of San Francisco, took the stand.

Mauricio Garzon is gay and a longtime lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocate who wrote a letter to the court in the case's early days asking for his nephew's bail to be lowered. He wrote that "a person identifying as gay is not even an issue for Clay."

In court, Mauricio Garzon said Clayton Garzon "never had a problem" with his uncle's sexual orientation and that Garzon has friends who have come out as gay.

Later, Parisi argued that Garzon did not know Partida was gay, adding that her client had little time to discern Partida's sexual orientation.

"Whatever occurred that day, hate or bias were not motivating factors," Parisi said. "The fact that Mikey Partida is gay does not elevate an assault to suddenly a hate crime."

Rather, Parisi said, it stemmed from the attraction Garzon had toward Partida's cousin Vanessa Turner, following a chance meeting between the two at Partida's birthday party.

Turner, who had gotten into an argument with a boyfriend and later a cousin, Melanie Bravo, at the party, left arm-in-arm with Partida, Parisi said.

"What is before the court is that Vanessa gets into a fight with her boyfriend and with Melanie (Bravo)," Parisi said. "Garzon sees this and tries to make a connection. What does he see? Mikey walking arm-in-arm with her. He wants to make a connection with this woman."

But prosecutor Raven painted Garzon as a violent bully who felt disrespected by Partida and who tracked Partida and Turner for more than a block before the assault that sent Partida to a hospital.

"A bully beat up a 5-foot-5, 125-pound man who's gay. He was horribly beaten and not in a fight," Raven said. "Garzon says, 'How does that (gay slur) get in the way of me making time.' Why was it such an affront? Because Mikey's gay."

Rosenberg repeated the slurs Garzon was alleged to have used during the beating before issuing the ruling.

"There is sufficient evidence to hold Mr. Garzon to answer," Rosenberg said.

Outside the courthouse, Partida, surrounded by family, said he was pleased the case against Garzon is moving to trial, hate charges intact.

"The hate crime (allegation) was very important to me," Partida said. "I know what happened. He knows what happened."

Call The Bee's Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.

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