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Ashli Babbitt’s brother cites her Capitol riot death in unsuccessful bid to divert hate-crime prosecution

A judge on Friday dismissed a request for a diversion of the Ocean Beach man’s hate crime prosecution, claiming that his alleged attack on a utility service last year was triggered by “extreme stress and trauma” caused by her death by shooting. his sister, Ashli ​​Babbitt, on January 6, 2021, inside the US Capitol.

Roger Stefan Witthoeft, Jr., 33, faces charges of misdemeanor in two separate incidents: in September attack on an employee at San Diego Gas & Electricduring which prosecutors say he shouted racist insults at the victim, and a January match concerning a man helping a disabled friend.

Witthoeft pleaded not guilty in both cases. He was referred to the second case on Friday in the San Diego Supreme Court.

In court documents filed last month, Witthoeft and his lawyer asked the judge to divert the prosecution of the hate crime case, offering him to do social work instead and attend anger management classes and sensitivity training. Under state law of 2021, judges have the discretion to deflect a large number of misdemeanor charges, which means suspending the prosecution and then dismissing the case if the individual meets certain criteria ordered by the court.

Judge Anthony Campagna rejected the diversion request on Friday, the city ‘s deputy chief prosecutor Taylor Hearnsberger told the Union-Tribune in a telephone interview. The judge also ordered Witthoeft not to have contact with the victim from the new case and to stay away from the location where the incident took place.

The San Diego City Attorney’s Office first blamed Witthoeft in March, for the incident with the traffic controller SDG & E, with a faulty battery with augmentation of hate crimes and violation of the constitutional rights of the victim with the threat of violence. In the latest case he is accused of misdemeanor and vandalism.

Deputy Attorney Varun Sabharwal, representing Witthoeft, argued in the diversion request that the incident involving the SDG & E employee could be partly to blame for the “momentary lack of crisis caused by the trauma and anger” associated with Babb’s death. .

“Her death was widely reported nationally and internationally, causing Witthoeft extreme anxiety and trauma,” Sabharwal wrote. “Sir. Witthoeft also received numerous death threats following this incident.”

Sabharwal also wrote that Babbitt’s death and its aftermath led Witthoeft “to an unfortunate path – alcoholism.”

The defense attorney argued that Witthoeft “did not deny that his actions were bad and remorseful”, but that he was “still very upset by the death of his sister and the subsequent media spectacle that angered him” and adversely affected the pool cleaning business.

Sabharwal, who did not respond to a request from Union-Tribune for comment on Friday, filed the diversion request on 12 April. But before the judge could rule, prosecutors indicted Witthoeft in connection with the new case.

Prosecutors opposed the diversion, citing Witthoeft’s alleged conduct in both recent incidents and two previous convictions for DUI and misdemeanor vandalism. Prosecutors also claimed to have evidence that Witthoeft used racist slander while fighting a black man in 2018 in an unpunished incident.

The opposing proposals made by Hearnsberger and Sabharwal shed new light on both incidents, the first of which occurred around 11:10 p.m. on September 14, when Witthoeft drove to an SDG & E roadblock near Ocean Beach and Point Loma.

According to prosecutors, Witthoeft got out of his pickup and confronted the traffic warden, slapping the victim and shouting “Go back to your county, you (explosive) immigrant.” Prosecutors said Witthoeft returned to his pickup and turned the diesel engine as he drove toward the worker standing in front of the truck, approaching about two feet from the victim before leaving.

Sabharwal claimed in court documents that the whole incident started because Witthoeft could not hear the employee and the employee could not hear him, due to the noise of the Witthoeft diesel engine. Defense attorney said Witthoeft asked the victim to move so he could turn his truck around and poor communication between the men bothered Witthoeft and “eventually led to a verbal altercation.”

Prosecutors said the second incident occurred Jan. 13 in Ocean Beach, when Witthoeft and his father were walking on a sidewalk on Muir Avenue with surfboards when it occurred in a car that partially closed the sidewalk.

“The accused was immediately hostile,” Hearnsberger wrote, arguing that Witthoeft confronted the 65-year-old driver, who was helping a friend get her wheelchair out of the car.

The prosecutor said that Witthoeft stood in the way of the elderly man and when the man tried to push him, Witthoeft punched or slapped him, hitting him on the ground and then pressing his mobile phone.

Witthoeft had previously pleaded guilty to misdemeanor vandalism in a 2016 incident in Lakeside in which he chased a 71-year-old driver during a parking dispute and kicked out the window of his trailer, prosecutors said.

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Ashli Babbitt’s brother cites her Capitol riot death in unsuccessful bid to divert hate-crime prosecution Source link Ashli Babbitt’s brother cites her Capitol riot death in unsuccessful bid to divert hate-crime prosecution

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