Hate-crime enhancement is dropped in assault case | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Hate-crime enhancement is dropped in assault case

Adam Jensen

Witness accounts alleging a South Lake Tahoe couple used racial slurs during an attack on an East Indian man at El Dorado Beach last summer are not enough to charge the couple with a hate crime, an El Dorado County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday.

Georgia and Joseph Silva were charged with felony assault with a hate-crime enhancement after a July 2007 incident in which the couple allegedly called two Bay Area women “Indian sluts,” then tackled and kicked the boyfriend of one of the women after he said was going to call police. The couple continued to spout racial epithets during the altercation, witness accounts allege.

Georgia Silva also is charged with two misdemeanor counts of using force or threats to interfere with another’s civil rights in connection with the incident, according to court documents.

On Thursday, Judge Suzanne Kingsbury agreed with a defense motion seeking to remove the hate-crime enhancement from the charges. Although Kingsbury called the alleged crime detailed in the police report “repugnant,” she said the evidence in the case does not fit the legal definition of a hate crime.

After Kingsbury’s ruling, defense attorney Elizabeth Grossman said she believed she would be able to settle the case with prosecutors.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for July 31.