An Orange County Municipal judge ordered a young Stanton man to stand trial on felony assault charges Thursday for allegedly throwing a piece of glass that slashed Amber Jefferson’s face during a brawl last August.
After four days of pretrial testimony, Judge Michael Beecher ruled that there was ample evidence to try Kurt David Wimberly, 18, on felony mayhem charges, although no one saw him throw the glass.
Trial is set to begin Dec. 13.
The charge stems from Wimberly’s involvement in an Aug. 6 fight outside his home that left the 15-year-old Garden Grove girl with a disfiguring scar that runs from her temple to her neck.
Two misdemeanor assault charges against Wimberly were dropped because one of his alleged victims, a former friend of Amber’s who has since accused her of attempting to bribe him into changing his testimony, now says he was never assaulted.
Wimberly, who remains in the Orange County Jail, is also charged with assault with a deadly weapon, infliction of bodily harm and battery.
According to authorities, as many as 12 people on both sides, some armed with bats and boards, took part in the fight that allegedly stemmed from an argument between Wimberly’s former and current girlfriends.
Prosecutors contend that during the confrontation, an angry Wimberly threw an ash tray, knife and then a glass shard from his patio, striking Amber in the face after one of her friends started breaking out the windows in his home. Following the near-fatal injury that slashed Amber’s face to the bone, she and her family charged that the attack was racially motivated, causing civil rights activists to rally around her.
Amber, the daughter of a black father and white mother, said her assailants had used racial slurs during the attack.
But the district attorney soundly rejected that claim, saying that the confrontation had nothing to do with race. During pretrial testimony, there was little evidence presented to suggest that race was a motive.
In earlier testimony, 17-year-old Matt Stewart--a friend of Amber’s who was with her the night of the incident--alleged that Amber had told him they each would receive $1,000 if they told authorities the attack was racially motivated. Amber denied the charge.
Rudy Garcia, a sheriff’s homicide investigator, testified Thursday that a 13-ounce piece of glass from a sliding glass window was probably the object that cut Amber. Although blood samples taken from the glass matched Amber’s blood type, Garcia said that investigators did not find any fingerprints on the shard to directly tie it to Wimberly.
Despite confusing and often conflicting testimony presented by the prosecution witnesses, Assistant Dist. Atty. Kathi Harper said she remains convinced that the district attorney has a strong case.