[Hpn] El Cajon, CA - 'Bumfights' lawyers question charges - San Diego Union Tribune - September 28, 2002

H. C. Covington H. C. Covington" <hccjr@bellsouth.net
Sat, 28 Sep 2002 15:35:47 -0500


'Bumfights' lawyers question charges

A judge allowed three of the four men to take back their not-guilty
pleas yesterday so their lawyers could try to get the charges thrown out.

"They have not legally charged a crime that we can defend,"
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By Onell R. Soto - San Diego Union Tribune - September 28, 2002

EL CAJON  The lawyers for four men accused of making a shock
video in which homeless men beat each other and perform dangerous
stunts say whatever the video makers have done, it's not a crime.

A judge allowed three of the four men to take back their
not-guilty pleas yesterday so their lawyers could try to get the
charges thrown out.

"They have not legally charged a crime that we can defend,"
lawyer Charles Goldberg said outside Superior Court yesterday,
explaining an inch-thick court filing fighting the charges
stemming from the video "Bumfights."

He accused La Mesa police and prosecutors of searching for a
crime to punish his client, Michael Slyman, 21, of Las Vegas, and
his associates.

"They just fired a shotgun out there in the air and hoped to hit
something," he said.

Jan Ronis, the lawyer for 19-year-old Ryan McPherson of La Mesa,
said the video makers committed no crime.

"I'm hard pressed to find out what the criminal activity is," he
said in an interview. "They consider themselves underground
documentary makers."

More than 300,000 of the $20 videos have been reportedly sold
through a Web site that plays the subject matter for laughs.

"Guaranteed to be the most hilariously shocking video you've ever
seen," it said. "You'll see drunk bums beating each other silly."

Prosecutor Curtis Ross said the investigation backs up the charges.

Slyman has not entered a plea to a felony charge of soliciting
the commission of an assault with a deadly weapon or likely to
cause great bodily injury.

Ross opposed a request to let the other three men take back their
not guilty pleas, saying they missed their chance to ask a judge
to dismiss the charges.

But Judge J. Lantz Lewis said letting all four defendants argue
their case at the same time is "in the interest of justice."

Zachary Bubeck, 24, and Daniel Tanner, 21, both of Las Vegas,
face the same felony solicitation charge.

McPherson, a recent graduate of Grossmont High School, is also
charged with four felony counts of trying to dissuade a witness
to a crime. Prosecutors say he tried to keep two homeless men in
La Mesa from talking to police.

Lewis ordered the four video makers to stay away from the two
men, Rufus Hannah and Donald "Donnie" Brennan.

Both men have tattoos of the word "Bumfight." A portion of the
video shows Brennan in a tattoo parlor as the word is permanently
etched onto his forehead.

Brennan said earlier in the week neither he nor Hannah were
forced to take part in the video, but the makers made sure they
were intoxicated.

"Liquid courage," he called it.


Onell Soto: (760) 476-8211;onell.soto@uniontrib.com
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