Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
October 28, 2008
Susan Kang Schroeder
JUDGE REDUCES FELONY TO MISDEMEANOR AND DISMISSES HATE CRIME FOR THREE MEN CHARGED WITH BEATING, KICKING AND YELLING ETHNIC SLURS IN RACIALLY MOTIVATED ATTACK OF LATINO MAN
WESTMINSTER – Three men were convicted today of assaulting a Latino man in a racially motivated attack in an In-N-Out Burger parking lot. James Joseph Kelly, 27, California City, Justin Louis Mullins 24, Garden Grove, and Cheyne Danica Wilson, 26, Hesperia, pleaded guilty to the court to one misdemeanor count of aggravated assault. The assault, which was filed by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office as a felony, was reduced to a misdemeanor and the sentencing enhancements for committing a hate crime and causing great bodily injury were dismissed by the Honorable Thomas Goethals over the People’s objection.
In addition to the assault, Wilson pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of carrying a loaded firearm in public. Mullins pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or more. He has a 2005 prior strike conviction for criminal threats and a 2006 conviction for driving under the influence. Mullins, Kelly, and Wilson are scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 19. 2008, at 8:30 a.m. in Department W-9, West Justice Center, Westminster.
On Aug. 9, 2007, Kelly, Mullins, and Wilson were driving in two separate cars after a night of drinking at the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim game and Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club in Westminster. At approximately 2:00 a.m., Kelly and Mullins, who were in the same car, pulled up to a red light next to Felipe Alvarado, who was on his way to work as the night shift janitor at In-N-Out Burger in Garden Grove. Wilson was in the other car. Kelly and Mullins yelled at the victim and taunted him with racial slurs. The victim attempted to avoid a confrontation by rolling up his window and driving away. The defendants followed him into the In-N-Out Burger parking lot, pulled Alvarado from his car, beat and kicked him as he was lying on the ground, and continued to yell racial insults.
A witness to the attack flagged down a police officer. Alvarado collapsed in the street as police arrived and was taken to the hospital. The defendants attempted to flee the scene but were stopped by officers. Wilson had a loaded firearm in his car. Mullins, who was driving Wilson’s car, had a .14 percent blood alcohol level.
The victim appeared in court after the plea and made a victim impact statement to the court. Alvarado explained that this attack has made him afraid to go out at night and that he is fearful that other people like the defendants might hurt or kill him. The victim also said that he continued to suffer back and head pain and has found it difficult to find work to support his children because of his injuries.
Deputy District Attorney Andrew Katz of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.