Two Men Sentenced in Riot Case Assault : Court: Acquitted in the shooting death of a Long Beach motorcyclist, they receive prison terms of nearly six years on charges related to the incident.


Two men who had been acquitted in the shooting death of a Long Beach motorcyclist on the second day of the riots were sentenced Monday to nearly six years in prison for assault and burglary charges stemming from the incident.

Larry Williams, 24, and Fabian Nixon, 19, were sentenced in Los Angeles Superior Court by Judge Nancy Brown, who said she levied the maximum term for assault “because the victims in this case were particularly vulnerable.”

On April 30, 32-year-old Matthew Haines and his nephew, Scott Coleman, were knocked off Haines’ motorcycle by a mob that spilled onto Long Beach streets. After being assaulted and shot, Haines was killed, while Coleman, 26, survived.

A jury in February acquitted the two men and a third defendant, Brent Lamar Jones, of murder, but convicted them of the lesser charges of assault and conspiracy to commit burglary. Jones, 17, was ordered to the California Youth Authority for evaluation because of his age. He will be sentenced in June.


Brown sentenced Williams and Nixon each to five years, eight months, and ordered them to pay $10,000 in restitution to the victims, including Coleman and looted Long Beach business owners.

Outside court, a thin, forlorn-looking Coleman said he has not recovered from Haines’ death. Speaking of the sentences, he said: “They can’t bring somebody back.” Members of Nixon’s family and friends said the sentences were harsh. “It was as if they wanted to get them for the murder anyway,” said one. Nixon’s mother, Janet, shook her head in disappointment. She declined interviews, but said to a companion: “The jury’s verdict was the justice system, but not this.”

One juror who returned to hear Brown’s sentencing said Nixon and Williams “got what they deserved. Whether or not they shot the man, they contributed to the fact that one died.” He declined to give his name.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert Grace called the sentences fair, “given the circumstances and their previous records.”

Nixon, a senior at Long Beach Polytechnic High School who had looked forward to obtaining a basketball scholarship to college, had once been placed on probation for cocaine possession, according to his probation report.

Williams--once known as “Crazy Larry” by fellow gang members--had been confined as a teen-ager to the California Youth Authority for drug possession. He had not been convicted of any felonies as an adult, and worked in his mother’s day-care center.

Speaking before the judge last week, Williams said he felt sorry for the victims, but, “I didn’t do this. Mr. Coleman is suffering. I’m suffering.. . . We’re human too.”

At that hearing, Grace asked the judge to send a message, “that group violence cannot be tolerated if we are to live in society side by side.”