Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
TWO MEN SENTENCED TO THREE YEARS IN PRISON FOR HATE CRIME ATTACK FOR BEATING AND KICKING ROBBERY VICTIM WHILE YELLING
SANTA ANA – Two men were sentenced today to three years in state prison for a violent hate crime attack for beating, kicking and stealing from a victim while yelling anti-Semitic slurs in a Coto de Caza park. Matthew Gregory Branstetter, 19, and Nolan John Wickham, 20, both of Rancho Santa Margarita, pleaded guilty to one felony count each of aggravated assault and grand theft from a person with sentencing enhancements for committing a hate crime in concert with others and causing great bodily injury.
At approximately 6:30 p.m. on April 6, 2011, Branstetter and Wickham approached 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 briefly spoke 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. The defendants continued to yell anti-Semetic slurs as they repeatedly kicked and punched John Doe. They then stole his cell phone and jacket and fled 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.
Senior Deputy District Attorney John Christl of the Special Prosecutions Unit prosecuted this case.