Following two days of heated — and, at times, colorful — testimony in a San Francisco courtroom, preliminary hearings for the two men charged in the 2006 New Year’s Eve attack against members of the Baker’s Dozen a cappella group will likely conclude today in San Francisco.
But not before some college drama surfaced first.
In testimony Tuesday, police inspector John Newman may have shed light on the now-infamous fight that once was shrouded in ambiguity. Tension devolved into physical aggression, he said, after one member of the Baker’s Dozen kissed a local woman and another tried to take a can of beer, prompting disapproval among the San Francisco natives at the party in the upper-crust Richmond District.
The a cappella group was allegedly attacked outside of a private New Year’s party that was being held in its honor. The BDs — who were on a winter-break West Coast tour — were assaulted by over a dozen assailants, according to eyewitnesses.
The days of testimony will help set the framework for a trial that, if ordered, would follow months of back and forth involving members of the BDs, lawyers and the San Francisco District Attorney’s office. The alleged attack on the BDs, in which several Yale students sustained serious injuries, has made national headlines amid accusations that District Attorney Kamala Harris employed lax tactics when charging and prosecuting the assailants, who were all recent graduates of a local high school at the time.
Richard Aicardi, 20, has been charged with two counts of assault and one count of battery against Evan Gogel ’10 and William “Hyatt” Bailey ’10, who both travelled to San Francisco for the hearings this week alongside a third BD, Bryan Bibler ’08. Brian Dwyer, 20, has been charged with one count of assault and one count of battery against Gogel. Both Aicardi and Dwyer pleaded not guilty to their respective charges last spring.
Lawyers representing the BDs have persistently claimed that the attack was one-sided.
“This was a brutal, one-sided beat down of kids who weren’t fighting back,” Whitney Leigh, one of the attorneys representing the BDs, told ABC News on Monday.
But the defense is claiming otherwise. Citing the intoxication of all parties involved, and differing accounts from victims, lawyers representing Aicardi and Dwyer have countered that the injuries inflicted on the BDs arose from mutual combat.
“The Yale boys were not little angels,” Aicardi’s lawyer, Jim Collins, said Monday. “They were argumentative, uncooperative with police and intoxicated.”
Bailey was punched in the face during the fight. Gogel suffered a concussion after allegedly being kicked while he was lying on the ground.
The BD member who sustained the most severe injuries, Sharyar Aziz ’10, was not in San Francisco for the hearings. Aziz had his jaw broken in two places after he was repeatedly kicked and punched while lying on the ground.
Although District Attorney Harris decided in March of last year that there was not enough evidence to prosecute individuals for Aziz’s injuries, Gogel testified Monday that he saw Aziz being assaulted by a group of people.
District Attorney’s office representative Debbie Mesloh told the News last March that Harris will “certainly take action” if new evidence emerges linking more suspects to the attack or linking either of the two apprehended men to the assault on Aziz.
“No one would be more gratified to be able to hold every person accountable on this attack on the young men than the DA,” she said. “Unfortunately, we just didn’t have the evidence needed to charge other individuals.”
Because the District Attorney did not name suspects responsible for Aziz’s injuries, Aziz has taken his case to civil court, suing the individuals who he believes attacked him. The lawsuit names not only Aicardi and Dwyer, but also Richard Aicardi’s brothers James and Michael and friend Marino Peradotto.
Gogel declined to comment on the case on Tuesday. Bailey and Leigh did not respond to requests for comment.
If a trial is ordered by Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kelly, it will likely take place this fall, the prosecutor on the case told ABC News on Monday.
—The Associated Press contributed reporting.