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3rd Simi Teen Sentenced in Hate Crime

Times Staff Writer

A third Simi Valley youth who admitted participating in the Dec. 6 beating of a black teenager was sentenced Monday to eight months in custody.

The 15-year-old tearfully read a statement apologizing to his 17-year-old victim, Jim King of Reseda, and to his parents for losing their trust.

“You did nothing to deserve being attacked and I wish I could change what happened,” he said to King. “I did have beliefs that whites were better than everybody else, especially people of color

The youth added that he was “going to do whatever I can do to stop other kids from making the same mistakes I made.”

Although he did not respond in court, King said in a later interview that he forgave the youth, one of four white teens who shouted racial slurs and punched and kicked him while he was trying to sell newspaper subscriptions in a shopping center parking lot in Simi Valley.

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“I hope that he was sincere,” King said. “I hope he wasn’t just saying that because he was in custody.”

The assailant’s 41-year-old mother also apologized to King and said she and her son’s stepfather had no idea the youth was involved in the white supremacist movement.

A search of her son’s bedroom after his arrest turned up a book on Adolph Hitler and a photo of the youth and friends in front of a Nazi flag, giving a straight-armed salute, according to prosecutors.

Ron Bamieh, the family’s lawyer, said the parents have arranged family counseling to increase their son’s racial and ethnic sensitivity and have been getting involved with the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

“He’s coming around,” Bamieh said. “I’d like to think we can help this 15-year-old change and do better.”

A student at Monte Vista, an alternative school in Simi Valley, the youth has been in the county’s Juvenile Hall since his arrest eight weeks ago and will remain confined for a total of 240 days. Upon release, he will remain on probation until his 21st birthday.

The youth, whom authorities earlier said was 16 years old, is not being identified because of his age.

Monday’s hearing came 12 days after two Simi Valley 16-year-olds were sentenced to confinement for the racially motivated attack. One of those youths was sentenced to nine months in custody. The other was sentenced to eight months.

Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Stacy Ratner, who handles hate crime prosecutions for Ventura County, said the three teens sentenced so far have similar terms of probation: They must avoid contact with one another and other skinheads, get rid of any clothing or insignias that identify them as white supremacists and attend a sensitivity class while in custody.

They also must attend counseling with their parents, who are responsible for reimbursing the county for their confinement costs, which at $22 a day could amount to more than $5,200 each.

If any of the teens violates probation or is arrested on similar charges, he could be transferred to the California Youth Authority and receive up to eight years in custody, Ratner said.

The fourth teen who admitted to the hate crime, a 17-year-old Granada Hills resident, is set to be sentenced Friday at the Los Angeles County juvenile courthouse in Sylmar.


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