Witness: Traffic Directed by Skin Color at Denny Beating Site
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ An Hispanic woman whose car was smashed at the intersection where last year’s riots started said a black man was directing attacks on non-black drivers and told others: ″Get her. She’s not a sister.″
Prosecutors contend the man was Damian Williams, but his name wasn’t mentioned in Alicia Maldonado’s testimony on Monday.
Also, her description of the man’s clothing - a key issue in the trial - differed from her earlier account to police.
Maldonado was the first prosecution witness in the trial of Williams, 20, and Henry Watson, 28. They are charged with attempted murder and other felonies involving attacks on trucker Reginald Denny, five other motorists and two firefighters on April 29, 1992. The trial resumes today.
They could receive life in prison if convicted.
The attacks took place at Florence and Normandie avenues in the South Central area followed the state court acquittals of four white police officers charged with beating black motorist Rodney King.
Maldonado, an X-ray technician, testified she was driving to a job interview and was unaware of the acquittals when she approached the intersection, where a black man was directing attacks on motorists.
″I had to slow down because traffic was being directed according to the color of your skin,″ said Maldonado, whose car windows were broken and purse stolen. ″The persons that were allowed to pass were all black - dark.″
Later, Maldonado said she had ″a problem with being in court.″
″Ironically, my husband is African-American,″ Maldonado explained. ″I never expected the attack from blacks. That’s my problem.″
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Wilma Shanks, Maldonado said the man directing traffic was dressed in a white T-shirt, dark shorts and a blue bandanna around his neck, and that he pointed at her car and said, ″Get her. She’s not a sister.″
Prosecutors have said that Williams wore those clothes at the intersection.
But Maldonado did not identify the defendants in court as her assailants. She later read aloud her original police report saying that the man who smashed her windshield wore a white, sleeveless T-shirt and khaki pants.
Both Williams and Watson are accused of assault with a deadly weapon - in this case, rocks - against Maldonado. She wasn’t hurt.
Her attack, like Denny’s, was videotaped. The footage of Denny, who is white, being pulled from his truck and beaten was broadcast nationally.
Defense attorneys claim their clients are the victims of mistaken identities.
Maldonado was hesitant to identify people on the videotape as those at the scene of the attack and said she was unaware her purse was stolen until well after she had cleared the intersection.
″I was looking, ducking, looking, ducking, getting out of there,″ the testy witness told Shanks.
Another defendant in the Denny case, Antoine Miller, 21, is charged with attempted murder but has been granted a separate trial. Lance Jerome Parker, 27, awaits trial on assault with a firearm and other felonies.
Three other men pleaded guilty or no contest to various charges in the case.