Four men accused of attacking a gay couple outside a public restroom following the 2018 Miami Beach Pride Parade have accepted a plea deal in order to avoid jail time.
Juan Carlos Lopez, Luis Alonso, Adonis Diaz, and Pablo Reinaldo Romo-Figueroa were charged with aggravated battery and hate crime enhancements for assaulting Rene Chalarca and Dmitry Logunov and calling them anti-gay slurs during the attack.
According to police, as well as video footage recovered from a security camera outside the restroom, the four attacked the couple after one of the men accidentally bumped into Lopez. The victims said their assailants began calling them “maricones,” an anti-gay slur in Spanish, and hurled other anti-gay epithets at the couple while beating them.
Both victims sustained cuts and bruises over their body and face, and Logunov lost consciousness temporarily during the assault.
A Good Samaritan, Helmut Muller, tried to intervene and stop the group, but was also beaten up. He ended up receiving four stitches for a cut to the back of the head. He was later honored for his heroism by Miami Beach officials.
Earlier this year, the defendants attempted to have the case dismissed under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, claiming they were defending themselves from the couple, who were the aggressors in the altercation. But after viewing the video footage, the trial judge, Ariana Fajardo Orshan, denied their claim.
While under the previous charges, including the hate crime enhancements, the men could have faced potentially up to 30 years in prison, they instead accepted a deal in which they agreed to plea guilty to charges of battery with prejudice, a second-degree felony.
All four defendants received five years of probation, and have been ordered to complete 200 hours of community service and complete an anger management course, reports Miami-based NBC affiliate WTVJ.
They were also required to apologize to the victims in open court as part of the plea deal.
“This is not me, I wish we acted a different way and I’m sure it’s not going to happen again,” Alonso said during his apology. “I offer my sincere apologies.”
“My actions that day don’t define who I am or how I was raised,” said Romo-Figueroa, according to the Miami Herald.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn from my mistakes,” added Diaz.
The victims attended the sentencing but left without speaking to the media. But, according to the New York Daily News, Logunov said, in a statement read aloud in court, that he was ready to move on from the incident, and wanted to give his attackers the same opportunity.
“Today, I’m taking a chance to rebuild my life,” the statement read. “I believe these gentlemen should have that chance, too.”
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle celebrated the plea deal in a statement.
“As a community, we must always come together to address issues of violence, especially when it is rooted in prejudice and hate,” Fernandez Rundle said. “I am glad that today we are able to give these victims the justice they justly deserve, and some measure of closure so that healing may begin.”
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