|For Immediate Release
Case # 11HF0927
April 8, 2011
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
TWO MEN CHARGED WITH HATE CRIME ATTACK FOR BEATING AND KICKING ROBBERY VICTIM WHILE YELLING ANTI-SEMITIC SLURS
SANTA ANA – Two men have been charged with a violent hate crime attack for beating, kicking and robbing a victim while yelling anti-Semitic slurs in a Coto de Caza park. Matthew Gregory Branstetter, 19, and Nolan John Wickham, 19, both of Rancho Santa Margarita, are charged with one felony count each of aggravated assault and second degree robbery with sentencing enhancements for committing a hate crime in concert with others and causing great bodily injury. If convicted, both defendants face a maximum sentence of 13 years in state prison. The People will be requesting $75,000 bail for each defendant at their arraignment today, Friday, April 8, 2011, at 3:00 p.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.
At approximately 6:30 p.m. on April 6, 2011, Branstetter, Wickham, and a third man are accused of approaching 23-year-old John Doe in a Coto de Caza park. The victim, who recognized Branstetter as an acquaintance, was sitting alone at a picnic table eating and drinking.
The defendants are accused of briefly speaking with the victim before demanding his money and possessions. When John Doe said that he had nothing to give them, the defendants began yelling anti-Semitic slurs and attacked the victim. All three defendants are accused of continuing to yell anti-Semetic slurs as they repeatedly kicked and punched John Doe. They are accused of then stealing his cell phone and jacket and fleeing the scene.
The victim went in and out of consciousness throughout the attack and awoke after the defendants had fled. He managed to stumble back to his nearby home, where his father saw the victim’s condition and called 911. John Doe was taken to Mission Hospital, where it was determined that he suffered a concussion, broken jaw, eye socket fracture, broken nose, cracked ribs, severe facial bruising, and cuts and bruises to his body and face.
Branstetter and Wickham were arrested that night by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), who investigated this case. The identity of the third defendant has not been released pending his arrest.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Anthony Sosnowski at (714) 347-8814 or OCSD Investigator Tim Horner at (949) 425-1938.
Senior Deputy District Attorney John Christl of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.