A deadlocked Sacramento jury failed to reach a verdict Tuesday in a midtown melee last June that injured three local musicians and left the alleged attacker to face assault and hate-crime charges.
Timothy Brownell faced a charge of assault with a deadly weapon and a hate-crime allegation at trial before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Savage in the fight about midnight June 22 on O Street outside Alley Katz bar.
Sacramento County prosecutors accused the 25-year-old Army veteran of hurling homophobic slurs at the three men, his anger reportedly triggered by the men’s skinny-legged pants, before slashing at them with a knife.
The case troubled Sacramento’s midtown neighborhoods with its sudden violence involving popular figures in the city’s music scene and allegations on social media that anti-gay sentiment led to the bloodshed.
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At trial, jurors were asked to decide whether the bloody confrontation was an attack fueled by intolerance or an act of self-defense against a “wolf pack” that encircled Brownell before turning on his drinking buddy.
After nearly three days of deliberation that began Thursday, jurors were at an impasse.
Leslie Ramos, Brownell’s defense counsel, patted Brownell’s back to steady him for the jury foreman’s statement.
“I believe the jury is deadlocked,” Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michel Savage said from the bench. “Is that true?”
“Yes,” the foreman said. Savage then asked the rest of the panel. All shook their heads in unison before Savage declared a mistrial.
At trial, Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Satnam Rattu denounced the violence and the words that were said to have preceded it as “the kind of conduct that this community should check.”
But Ramos called Brownell’s mother, herself in a longtime same-sex relationship, to the witness stand to counter prosecutors’ claims that her son harbored intolerant thoughts and put those thoughts into action that June night.
At one point on the stand, Lori Brownell said she would not have testified on her son’s behalf if she believed he was homophobic. Lori Brownell sat in the gallery Tuesday as the jurors delivered their decision. She left soon after, met briefly with Ramos and did not speak to a reporter.
Both attorneys at trial focused heavily on security camera video taken from above O Street that captured the fight. Rattu said the images showed an angry Brownell attacking the group with a knife, “filleting” Blake Abbey’s arm, he said, and stabbing Alex Lyman in the side, barely missing the guitarist’s spleen.
Rattu played video of the minutes leading to the fight of Abbey, Lyman and friend Weston Richmond walking down O Street toward Alley Katz, pointing to the moment he alleged Brownell uttered the homophobic slur that launched the brawl.
Defense counsel Ramos said the images showed a far different story of Brownell desperate to keep the men, intoxicated after a day at the river and a night of bouncing from bar to midtown bar, at bay.
Ramos said Brownell charged the men only after they set upon Brownell’s drinking buddy.
Whether Sacramento County prosecutors will retry the case remained unclear, but outside the courtroom Ramos maintained her client’s innocence and said she was prepared to defend Brownell at a second trial.