SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - Three former San Jose State University students accused of harassing a black student at the school were found guilty today of misdemeanor battery charges but escaped conviction on hate crime allegations.
Logan Beaschler, of Bakersfield, Joseph "Brett" Bomgardner, of Clovis, and Colin Warren, of Woodacre, were freshmen at SJSU when they harassed Donald "DJ" Williams Jr. at an eight-person dormitory suite between August and October 2013.
The defendants allegedly barricaded Williams in a bathroom and a room, locked him in a closet, hung a Confederate flag, forced a bike lock around his neck twice, and also called him derogatory nicknames, including "three-fifths" and "fraction".
All three were convicted today by a Santa Clara County Superior Court jury of misdemeanor battery.
However, Bomgardner was found not guilty of misdemeanor commission of a hate crime by use of force and Judge Thang Barrett declared a mistrial on similar hate crime allegations against Beaschler and Warren after the jury deadlocked on those charges.
A fourth student has been charged as a juvenile in the case, prosecutors said. More information on the status of the juvenile's case was not immediately available.
Warren was the only defendant who appeared with his attorney Dek Ketchum at the Old Courthouse in downtown San Jose, where he stood expressionless as he heard the verdict.
"The jury had a lot of issues with regard to whether this was a hate crime," Ketchum said in regards to the hung jury on the second count.
The defendants face up to six months in county jail on the battery conviction, Rosen said.
"While today's decision was partially disappointing it was not dispiriting. Our resolve to fight hate crimes remains unwavering," Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said outside court this afternoon
beside Williams and his father.
There was an "atmosphere of fear and intimidation" in the dorm that not only diminished Williams' dignity, but the dignity of all African-American students and the community, Rosen said.
Williams and his father shook hands with Rosen and hugged the prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Malinsky.
Rosen thanked Williams for his "heroism" and "courage in confronting this terrible situation."
Rosen hoped the defendants would draw on Williams' example and resolve to make changes to lead a different life.
Prosecutors will decide by the sentencing hearing if Beaschler and Warren will face another trial on the hate crime allegation, Rosen said.
Monday afternoon, the president of San Jose State University released the following statement:
Dear SJSU community,
A jury in Santa Clara County criminal court earlier today returned verdicts on misdemeanor charges against three former SJSU students accused of race-based hate crimes against a fellow student and residence hall suite mate in fall 2013. All three defendants were found guilty of misdemeanor battery. One of the three was found not guilty of a misdemeanor hate crime; the jury could not reach a verdict on hate crime charges against the other two. A fourth defendant was a minor when these acts occurred and was adjudicated through the juvenile court. That outcome is confidential. All four students who engaged in these acts are no longer enrolled at SJSU. The victim and his family are pursuing civil remedies independent of the criminal actions. Much work lies ahead as we seek to create a truly inclusive, welcoming and safe environment for every member of our community. We continue moving forward on multiple fronts:
• Plans are underway to bring campus community members together this semester to openly discuss results of the most recent campus climate survey.
• The search for a chief diversity officer is moving toward a conclusion; semifinalist interviews will take place this weekend.
More information will follow on these and other efforts.