LONG BEACH -- An ex-Marine pleaded not guilty to allegedly assaulting two men in September outside a popular gay bar.
John Kelly O'Leary, 21, was charged in Long Beach Superior Court with one felony count each of battery with serious bodily injury and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury. The criminal complaint also says the attack was a hate crime.
O'Leary's preliminary hearing date is scheduled for Thursday.
If convicted, O'Leary could face eight years in state prison, said Deputy District Attorney Gretchen Ford, who is assigned to the Hate Crimes Unit.
O'Leary remains jailed on $105,000 bail.
O'Leary allegedly went to the Silver Fox on Redondo Avenue near Fourth Street with three other Marines in the early morning hours of Sept. 3.
Bar manager John Barnes told the Press-Telegram in September that the Marines entered the bar about an hour before closing time and seemed visibly uncomfortable. One of the Marines called Barnes "sweetheart" in a demeaning tone, witnesses said.
The Marines appeared to be enjoying themselves inside the bar, but at closing time, O'Leary allegedly went outside and things turned ugly.
O'Leary was standing in the street yelling and someone from the bar came outside and attempted to move him out of the street, but to no avail. When that person went back into the bar, the first victim tried to convince O'Leary to step out of the street, too, but O'Leary allegedly shouted anti-gay slurs at the man and hit him in the face, knocking him unconscious. The victim also fractured a hip, said Jane Robison, a Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman.
As the first victim was being attacked, a second person tried to help him, but O'Leary began punching and choking him. At the same time, the three other Marines tried to break up the fight before police arrived, she said.
Since the three other Marines were trying to break up the fight, they were not charged, Robison said.
It took prosecutors several months to file charges because they had numerous witnesses to interview, Robison said.
O'Leary was arrested April 8 by police in Evergreen Park, Ill., at a relative's house and, after waiving extradition, returned to California last week, Robison said.
Shortly after the incident, the four Marines were released on bail and returned to their base at Camp Pendelton near San Diego.
In addition to the local investigation, an independent review was launched by military authorities. That review is still open, Master Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva, U.S. Marine Corps spokesman, said.
O'Leary was dishonorably discharged from the Marines on Oct. 19, but Oliva didn't know the reason for O'Leary's dismissal.
The three other Marines are still in the service, Oliva said.
Phillip Zonkel can be reached at 562-714-2098