A gay man who was allegedly beaten with a "Yes on Prop. 8" yard sign in Torrance testified today that he doubted he'd survive the attack.
The 22-year-old man said Joseph Storm used homosexual and racial slurs while hitting him with the sign and his fists on Oct. 26.
"I honestly, for a minute, didn't know if I was gonna walk away from it," the man told Torrance Superior Court Judge Laura Ellison about the beating.
After hearing from the man, who is not being identified to protect his privacy, Ellison determined there was enough evidence to hold Storm, 23, for trial on a felony hate crime assault and a misdemeanor of interfering with another's exercise of civil rights.
Storm's attorney, Donald Herzstein, asked Ellison to dismiss the hate crime allegation.
"Why?" Ellison replied. "There's overwhelming evidence of that."
The alleged victim said he was walking around 2 a.m. in the 2000 block of 230th Street when he passed a "Yes on Prop. 8" sign in someone's yard.
The alleged attack was a little more than a week before the controversial Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, was passed by California voters.
The openly gay man who was wearing a "No on Prop. 8" button on his jacket, said he held his middle finger up to the sign.
That's when he said Storm attacked him, first with the sign, then with his fists before choking him, he said during questioning by Deputy District Attorney Pat Carey.
Storm asked him where he lived, called him a derogatory name for homosexuals and also used a racial slur for blacks - although the alleged victim is not black and said he did not know what Storm meant.
The alleged victim said he started crawling away backwards when Storm came up to him again, spit in his face and said he was lucky this time.
"He said, `If he ever sees my (expletive) ass on the street again, it's gonna be worse,"' the alleged victim testified.
The alleged victim said he went to a neighbor's house because he didn't want Storm to know where he lived.
He called a friend, who took him to a hospital, where he was treated for a laceration above his eyebrow. He said he also had bumps and bruises on his head and red marks on his neck.
The alleged victim said he had only one previous encounter with Storm about 10 years ago.
He said he walked by Storm's house and heard a knocking. He saw Storm, in the window, hold his middle finger up at him.
The alleged victim said he's never had a conversation with Storm before the sign incident, but knew who Storm was because he was a "known bully at school."
During cross-examination, the alleged victim denied that he pulled the sign off the lawn or that Storm attacked him after accusing him of littering.
In the audience, one of Storm's supporters mouthed, "He's lying," to another.